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Copyright • i 9 2 8 * 

JPrinted in the United States 

First printing, November, 1928 
Second printing, December, 1928 
Third printing, March, 1930 
Fourth printing, October, 1933 
Fifth printing, December, 1936 

To My Wife 
Dorb E. Fleischman 

Some of the Ideas and some of the material in 
this book have been used in articles written for The 
Bookman^ The Delineator ^ Advertising and Selling, 
The Independent, The American Journal of Soci- 
ology, and other journals, to whom the author makes 
grateful acknowledgment. 


1 . 

Organizing Chaos > . 



The New Propaganda 



The New Propagandists .... 



The Psychology of Public Relations 



Business and the Public .... 



Propaganda and Political Leadership 



Women’s Activities and Propaganda 



Propaganda for Education 



Propaganda in Social Service . 



Art and Science 


XL The Mechanics of Propaganda . . 150 



The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the 
organized habits and opinions of the masses is an 
important element in democratic society. Those who 
manipulate this unseen mechanism of society consti- 
tute an invisible government which is the true ruling 
power of our country. 

We are governed, our minds are molded, our 
tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men 
we have never heard of. This is a logical result of 
the way in which our democratic society is organized. 
Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in 
this manner if they are to live together as a smooth- 
ly functioning society. 

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, un- 
aware of the identity of their fellow members in the 
inner cabinet. 

They govern us by their qualities of natural leader- 
ship, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their 
key position in the social structure. Whatever atti- 
tude one chooses to take toward this condition, it 
remains a fact that in almcst every act of our daily 
lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, 
in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are 



dominated by the relatively small number of per- 
sons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty 
million — who understand the mental processes and 
social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the 
wires which control the public mind, who harness old 
social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide 
the world. 

It is not usually realized how necessary these in- 
visible governors are to the orderly functioning of 
our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote 
for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not 
envisage political parties as part of the mechanism 
of government, and its framers seem not to have 
pictured to themselves the existence in our national 
politics of anything like the modern political ma- 
chine. But the American voters soon found that 
without organization and direction their individual 
votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of can- 
didates, would produce nothing but confusion. In- 
visible government, in the shape of rudimentary 
political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since 
then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and 
practicality, that party machines should narrow down 
the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three 
or four. 

In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on 
public questions and matters of private conduct. In 
practice, if all men had to study for themselves the 
abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved 


Organizing Chaos 

in every question, they vpould find it impossible to 
come to a conclusion about anything. We have 
voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government 
sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so 
that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical 
proportions. From our leaders and the media they 
use to reach the public, we accept the evidence and 
the demarcation of issues bearing upon public ques- 
tions} from some ethical teacher, be it a minister, a 
favorite essayist, or merely prevailing opinion, we 
accept a standardized code of social conduct to which 
we conform most of the time. 

In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest 
commodities offered him on the market. In practice, 
if every one went around pricing, and chemically 
testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or 
fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, eco- 
nomic life would become hopelessly jammed. To 
avoid such confusion, society consents to have its 
choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its 
attention through propaganda of all kinds. There 
is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on 
to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or 
commodity or idea. 

It might be better to have, instead of propaganda 
and special pleading, committees of wise men who 
would choose our rulers, dictate our conduct, private 
and public, and decide upon the best types of clothes 
for us to wear and the best kinds of food for us to 



cat. But we have chosen the opposite method, that 
of open competition. We must find a way to make 
free competition function with reasonable smooth- 
ness. To achieve this society has consented to permit 
free competition to be organized by leadership and 

Some of the phenomena, of this process are crit- 
icized — ^the manipulation of news, the inflation of 
personality, and the general ballyhoo by which poli- 
ticians and commercial products and social ideas are 
brought to the consciousness of the masses. The in- 
struments by which public opinion is organized and 
focused may be misused. But such organization and 
focusing are necessary to orderly life. 

As civilization has become more complex, and as 
the need for invisible government has been increas- 
ingly demonstrated, the technical means have been 
invented and developed by which opinion may be 

With the printing press and the newspaper, the 
railroad, the telephone, telegraph, radio and air- 
planes, ideas can be spread rapidly and even instanta- 
neously over the whole of America. 

H. G. Wells senses the vast potentialities of these 
inventions when he writes in the New York Times: 

“Modern means of communication — the power 
afforded by print, telephone, wireless and so forth, 
of rapidly putting through directive strategic or tech- 
nical conceptions to a great number of cooperating 

Organizing Chaos 

centers, of getting quick replies and effective discus- 
sion — ^have opened up a new world of political proc- 
esses. Ideas and phrases can now be given an 
effectiveness greater than the effectiveness of any 
personality and stronger than any sectional interest. 
The common design can be documented and sustained 
against perversion and betrayal. It can be elaborated 
and developed steadily and widely without personal, 
local and sectional misunderstanding.” 

What Mr. Wells says of political processes is 
equally true of commercial and social processes and 
all manifestations of mass activity. The groupings 
and affiliations of society to-day are no longer subject 
to ‘‘local and sectional” limitations. When the Con- 
stitution was adopted, the unit of organization was 
the village community, which produced the greater 
part of its own necessary commodities and generated 
its group ideas and opinions by personal contact and 
discussion directly among its citizens. But to-day, 
because ideas can be instantaneously transmitted to 
any distance and to any number of people, this geo- 
graphical integration has been supplemented by many 
other kinds of grouping, so that persons having the 
same ideas and interests may be associated and regi- 
mented for common action even though they live 
thousands of miles apart. 

It is extremely difficult to realize how many and 
diverse are these cleavages in our society. They may 
be social, political, economic, racial, religious or eth- 



ical, with hundreds of subdivisions of each. In the 
World Almanac, for example, the following groups 
are listed under the A’s: 

The League to Abolish Capital Punishment j As- 
sociation to Abolish Warj American Institute of 
Accountants j Actors’ Equity Association; Actuarial 
Association of America; International Advertising 
Association; National Aeronautic Association; Al- 
bany Institute of History and Art; Amen Corner; 
American Academy in Rome; American Antiquarian 
Society; League for American Citizenship; Ameri- 
can Federation of Labor; Amorc (Rosicrucian Or- 
der); Andiron Club; American-Irish Historical 
Association; Anti-Cigarette League; Anti-Profanity 
League; Archeological Association of America; Na- 
tional Archery Association; Arion Singing Society; 
American Astronomical Association; Ayrshire Breed- 
ers’ Association; Aztec Club of 1847. There are 
many more under the “A” section of this very 
limited list. 

The American Newspaper Annual and Directory 
for 1928 lists 22,128 periodical publications in 
America. I have selected at random the N’s pub- 
lished in Chicago. They are: 

Narod (Bohemian daily newspaper) ; Narod-Pol- 
ski (Polish monthly); N.A.R.D. (pharmaceutical); 
National Corporation Reporter; National Culinary 
Progress (for hotel chefs); National Dog Journal; 
National Drug Clerk; National Engineer; National 


Organizing Chaos 

Grocer j National Hotel Reporter; National Income 
Tax Magazine; National Jeweler; National Journal 
of Chiropractic; National Live Stock Producer; 
National Miller; National Nut News; National 
Poultry, Butter and Egg Bulletin; National Provi- 
sioner (for meat packers); National Real Estate 
Journal; National Retail Clothier; National Retail 
Lumber Dealer; National Safety News; National 
Spiritualist; National Underwriter; The Nation’s 
Health; Naujienos (Lithuanian daily newspaper); 
New Comer (Republican weekly for Italians); 
Daily News; The New World (Catholic weekly); 
North American Banker; North American Veterina- 

The circulation of some of these publications is 
astonishing. The National Live Stock Producer has 
a sworn circulation of 155,978; The National En- 
gineer, of 20,328; The New World, an estimated 
circulation of 67,000. The greater number of the 
periodicals listed — chosen at random from among 
22,128 — have a circulation in excess of 10, 000. 

The diversity of these publications is evident at a 
glance. Yet they can only faintly suggest the multi- 
tude of cleavages which exist in our society, and 
along which flow information and opinion carrying 
authority to the individual groups. 

Here are the conventions scheduled for Cleveland, 
Ohio, recorded in a single recent issue of ‘‘World 



Cenvention Dates” — fraction of the 5 j 500 con- 
ventions and rallies scheduled. 

The Employing Photo-Engravers’ Association of 
America 5 The Outdoor Writers’ Association} the 
Knights of St. John} the Walther League} The Na- 
tional Knitted Outerwear Association} The Knights 
of St. Joseph} The Royal Order of Sphinx } The 
Mortgage Bankers’ Association} The International 
Association of Public Employment Officials} The 
Kiwanis Clubs of Ohio} The American Photo-En- 
gravers’ Association} The Cleveland Auto Manufac- 
turers Show} The American Society of Heating and 
Ventilating Engineers. 

Other conventions to be held in 1928 were those 

The Association of Limb Manufacturers’ Asso- 
ciations} The National Circus Fans’ Association of 
America} The American Naturopathic Association} 
The American Trap Shooting Association} The 
Texas Folklore Association} The Hotel Greeters } 
The Fox Breeders’ Association} The Insecticide and 
Disinfectant Association} The National Association 
of Egg Case and Egg Case Filler Manufacturers} 
The American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages} 
and The National Pickle Packers’ Association, not to 
mention the Terrapin Derby — ^most of them with 
banquets and orations attached. 

If all these thousands of formal organizations and 
institutions could be listed (and no complete list has 


Organizing Chaos 

ever been made), they would still represent but a 
part of those existing less formally but leading 
vigorous lives. Ideas are sifted and opinions stereo- 
typed in the neighborhood bridge club. Leaders 
assert their authority through community drives and 
amateur theatricals. Thousands of women may un- 
consciously belong to a sorority which follows the 
fashions set by a single society leader. 

“Life” satirically expresses this idea in the reply 
which it represents an American as giving to the 
Britisher who praises this country for having no 
upper and lower classes or castes; 

“Yeah, all we have is the Four Hundred, the 
White-Collar Men, Bootleggers, Wall Street Barons, 
Criminals, the D.A.R., the K.K.K., the Colonial 
Dames, the Masons, Kiwanis and Rotarians, the K. 
of C., the Elks, the Censors, the Cognoscenti, the 
Morons, Heroes like Lindy, the W.C.T.U., Poli- 
ticians, Menckenites, the Booboisie, Immigrants, 
Broadcasters, and — the Rich and Poor.” 

Yet it must be remembered that these thousands 
of groups interlace. John Jones, besides being a 
Rotarian, is member of a church, of a fraternal order, 
of a political party, of a charitable organization, of 
a professional association, of a local chamber of 
commerce, of a league for or against prohibition or 
of a society for or against lowering the tariff, and of 
a golf club. The opinions which he receives as a 



Rotarlan, he will tend to disseminate in the other 
groups in which he may have influence. 

This invisible, intertwining structure of groupings 
and associations is the mechanism by which democ- 
racy has organized its group mind and simplified its 
mass thinking. To deplore the existence of such a 
mechanism is to ask for a society such as never was 
and never will be. To admit that it exists, but expect 
that it shall not be used, is unreasonable. 

Emil Ludwig represents Napoleon as “ever on 
the watch for indications of public opinion; always 
listening to the voice of the people, a voice which 
defies calculation. ‘Do you know,’ he said in those 
days, ‘what amazes me more than all else? The 
impotence of force to organize anything.’ ” 

It is the purpose of this book to explain the struc- 
ture of the mechanism which controls the public 
mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special 
pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a 
particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the 
same time to find the due place in the modern demo- 
cratic scheme for this new propaganda and to sug- 
gest its gradually evolving code of ethics and prac- 




In the days when kings were kings, Louis XIV 
made his modest remark, “L’Etat c’est moi.” He 
was nearly right. 

But times have changed. The steam engine, the 
multiple press, and the public school, that trio of the 
industrial revolution, have taken the power away 
from kings and given it to the people. The people 
actually gained power which the king lost. For 
economic power tends to draw after it political 
power; and the history of the industrial revolution 
shows how that power passed from the king and the 
aristocracy to the bourgeoisie. Universal suffrage 
and universal schooling reenforced this tendency, and 
at last even the bourgeoisie stood in fear of the com- 
mon people. For the masses promised to become 

To-day, however, a reaction has set in. The mi- 
nority has discovered a powerful help in influencing 
majorities. It has been found possible so to mold 
the mind of the masses that they will throw 
their newly gained strength in the desired direction. 
In the present structure of society, this practice is 
inevitable. Whatever of social importance is done 



to-day, whether in politics, finance, manufacture, agri- 
culture, charity, education, or other fields, must be 
done with the help of propaganda. Propaganda is 
the executive arm of the invisible government. 

Universal literacy was supposed to educate the 
common man to control his environment. Once 
he could read and write he would have a mind fit to 
rule. So ran the democratic doctrine. But instead 
of a mind, universal literacy has given him rubber 
stamps, rubber stamps inked with advertising slogans, 
with editorials, with published scientific data, with 
the trivialities of the tabloids and the platitudes of 
history, but quite innocent of original thought. Each 
man’s rubber stamps are the duplicates of millions 
of others, so that when those millions are exposed to 
the same stimuli, all receive identical imprints. It 
may seem an exaggeration to say that the American 
public gets most of its ideas in this wholesale fashion. 
The mechanism by which ideas are disseminated on a 
large scale is propaganda, in the broad sense of 
an organized effort to spread a particular belief or 

I am aware that the word “propaganda” carries to 
many minds an unpleasant connotation. Yet whether, 
in any instance, propaganda is good or bad depends 
upon the merit of the cause urged, and the correct- 
ness of the information published. 

In itself, the word “propaganda” has certain tech- 
nical meanings which, like most things in this world, 

The New Propaganda 

are “neither good nor bad but custom makes them 
so.” I find the word defined in Funk and Wagnalls’ 
Dictionary in four ways: 

“i. A society of cardinals, the overseers of for- 
eign missions} also the College of the Propaganda at 
Rome founded by Pope Urban VIII in 1627 for the 
education of missionary priests; Sacred College de 
Propaganda Fide. 

“2. Hence, any institution or scheme for propa- 
gating a doctrine or system. 

“3. Effort directed systematically toward the 
gaining of public support for an opinion or a course 
of action. 

“4. The principles advanced by a propaganda.” 

The Scientific American, in a recent issue, pleads 
for the restoration to respectable usage of that “fine 
old word ‘propaganda.’ ” 

“There is no word in the English language,” it 
says, “whose meaning has been so sadly distorted as 
the word ‘propaganda.’ The change took place 
mainly during the late war when the term took on a 
decidedly sinister complexion. 

“If you turn to the Standard Dictionary, you will 
find that the word was applied to a congregation or 
society of cardinals for the care and oversight of 
foreign missions which was Instituted at Rome in 
the year 1627. It W|s applied also to the College of 
the Propaganda at Rome that was founded by Pope 
Urban VIII, for the education of the missionary 



priests. Hence, in later years the word came to be 
applied to any institution or scheme for propagating 
a doctrine or system. 

“Judged by this definition, we can see that in its 
true sense propaganda is a perfectly legitimate form 
of human activity. Any society, whether it be social, 
religious or political, which is possessed of certain 
beliefs, and sets out to make them known, either by 
the spoken or written words, is practicing propa- 

“Truth is mighty and must prevail, and if any 
body of men believe that they have discovered a 
valuable truth, it is not merely their privilege but 
their duty to disseminate that truth. If they realize, 
as they quickly must, that this spreading of the truth 
can be done upon a large scale and effectively only 
by organized effort, they will make use of the press 
and the platform as the best means to give it wide 
circulation. Propaganda becomes vicious and repre- 
hensive only when its authors consciously and delib- 
erately disseminate what they know to be lies, or 
when they aim at effects which they know to be prej- 
udicial to the common good. 

“ Tropaganda’ in its proper meaning is a perfectly 
wholesome word, of honest parentage, and with an 
honorable history. The fact that it should to-day be 
carrying a sinister meaning merely shows how much 
of the child remains in the average adult. A group 
of citizens writes and talks in favor of a certain 

The New Propaganda 

course of action in some debatable question, believing 
that it is promoting the best interest of the commu- 
nity. Propaganda? Not a bit of it. Just a plain 
forceful statement of truth. But let another group 
of citizens express opposing views, and they are 
promptly labeled with the sinister name of propa- 
ganda. ... 

“ ‘What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the 
gander,’ says a wise old proverb. Let us make haste 
to put this fine old word back where it belongs, and 
restore, its dignified significance for the use of our 
children and our children’s children.” 

The extent to which propaganda shapes the prog- 
ress of affairs about us . may surprise even well in- 
formed persons. Nevertheless, it is only necessary 
to look under the surface of the newspaper for a 
hint as to propaganda’s authority over public opinion. 
Page one of the New York Times on the day these 
paragraphs are written contains eight important news 
stories. Four of them, or one-half, are propaganda. 
The casual reader accepts them as accounts of spon- 
taneous happenings. But are they? Here are the 
headlines which announce them: “twelve nations 

QUIRY,” and “our living standard highest in 


Take them in order: the article on China explains 



the joint report of the Commission on Extraterri- 
toriality in China, presenting an exposition of the 
Powers’ stand in the Chinese muddle. What it says 
is less important than what it is. It was “made pub- 
lic by the State Department to-day” with the purpose 
of presenting to the American public a picture of the 
State Department’s position. Its source gives it au- 
thority, and the American public tends to accept and 
support the State Department view. 

The report of Dr. Pritchett, a trustee of the Car- 
negie Foundation for International Peace, is an at- 
tempt to find the facts about this Jewish colony in 
the midst of a restless Arab world. When Dr. 
Pritchett’s survey convinced him that in the long run 
Zionism would “bring more bitterness and more un- 
happiness both for the Jew and for the Arab,” this 
point of view was broadcast with all the authority 
of the Carnegie Foundation, so that the public would 
hear and believe. The statement by the president of 
the Real Estate Board of New York, and Secretary 
Hoover’s report, are similar attempts to influence 
the public toward an opinion. 

These examples are not given to create the impres- 
sion that there is anything sinister about propaganda. 
They are set down rather to illustrate how conscious 
direction is given to events, and how the men behind 
these events influence public opinion. As such they 
are examples of modern propaganda. At this point 
we may attempt to define propaganda. 


The New Propaganda 

Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring ef- 
fort to create or shape events to influence the rela- 
tions of the public to an enterprise, idea or group. 

This practice of creating circumstances and of 
creating pictures in the minds of millions of persons 
is very common. Virtually no important undertaking 
is now carried on without it, whether that enterprise 
be building a cathedral, endowing a university, mar- 
keting a moving picture, floating a large bond issue, 
or electing a president. Sometimes the effect on the 
public is created by a professional propagandist, 
sometimes by an amateur deputed for the job. The 
important thing is that it is universal and continuous ; 
and in its sum total it is regimenting the public mind 
every bit as much as an army regiments the bodies of 
its soldiers. 

So vast are the numbers of minds which can be 
regimented, and so tenacious are they when regi- 
mented, that a group at times offers an irresistible 
pressure before which legislators, editors, and teach- 
ers are helpless. The group will cling to its stereo- 
type, as Walter Lippmann calls it, making of those 
supposedly powerful beings, the leaders of public 
opinion, mere bits of driftwood in the surf. When 
an Imperial Wizard, sensing what is perhaps hunger 
for an ideal, offers a picture of a nation all Nordic 
and nationalistic, the common man of the older 
American stock, feeling himself elbowed out of his 
irightful position and prosperity by the newer immi- 



grant stocks, grasps the picture which fits in so neatly 
with his prejudices, and makes it his own. He buys 
the sheet and pillow-case costume, and bands with 
his fellows by the thousand into a huge group 
powerful enough to swing state elections and to 
throw a ponderous monkey wrench into a national 

In our present social organization approval of the 
public is essential to any large undertaking. Hence 
a laudable movement may be lost unless it impresses 
itself on the public mind. Charity, as well as busi- 
ness, and politics and literature, for that matter, have 
had to adopt propaganda, for the public must be 
regimented into giving money just as it must be regi- 
mented into tuberculosis prophylaxis. The Near 
East Relief, the Association for the Improvement of 
the Condition of the Poor of New York, and all 
the rest, have to work on public opinion just as 
though they had tubes of tooth paste to sell. We 
are proud of our diminishing infant death rate — and 
that too is the work of propaganda. 

Propaganda does exist on all sides of us, and it 
does change our mental pictures of the world. Even 
if this be unduly pessimistic — ^and that remains to 
be proved — the opinion reflects a tendency that is 
undoubtedly real. In fact, its use is growing as 
its efficiency in gaining public support is recognized. 

This then, evidently indicates the fact that any 
one with sufficient influence can lead sections of the 


T he New Propaganda 

public at least for a time and for a given purpose. 
Formerly the rulers were the leaders. They laid 
out the course of history, by the simple process of 
doing what they wanted. And if nowadays the 
successors of the rulers, those whose position or 
ability gives them power, can no longer do what 
they want without the approval of the masses, 
they find in propaganda a tool which is increasingly 
powerful in gaining that approval. Therefore, prop- 
aganda is here to stay. 

It was, of course, the astounding success of prop- 
aganda during the war that opened the eyes of 
the intelligent few in all departments of life to 
the possibilities of re^menting the public mind. 
The American government and numerous patriotic 
agencies developed a technique which, to most per- 
sons accustomed to bidding for public acceptance, was 
new. They not only appealed to the individual by 
means of every approach — ^visual, graphic, and audi- 
tory — to support the national endeavor, but they also 
secured the cooperation of the key men in every group 
— persons whose mere word carried authority to hun- 
dreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of 
followers. They thus automatically gained the sup- 
port of fraternal, religious, commercial, patriotic, 
social and local groups whose members took their 
opinions from their accustomed leaders and spokes- 
men, or from the periodical publications which they 
were accustomed to read and believe. At the same 



time, the manipulators of patriotic opinion made use 
of the mental cliches and the emotional habits of the 
public to produce mass reactions against the alleged 
atrocities, the terror and the tyranny of the enemy. 
It was only natural, after the war ended, that intel- 
ligent persons should ask themselves whether it was 
not possible to apply a similar technique to the prob- 
lems of peace. 

.As a matter of fact, the practice of propaganda 
since the war has assumed very different forms from 
those prevalent twenty years ago. This new tech- 
nique may fairly be called the new propaganda. 

It takes account not merely of the individual, nor 
even of the mass mind alone, but also and especially 
of the anatomy of society, with its interlocking group 
formations and loyalties. It sees the individual 
not only as a cell in the social organism but as a cell 
organized into the social unit. Touch a nerve at a 
sensitive spot and you get an automatic response 
from certain specific members of the organism. 

Business offers graphic examples of the effect that 
may be produced upon the public by interested 
groups, such as textile manufacturers losing their 
markets. This problem arose, not long ago, when the 
velvet manufacturers were facing ruin because their 
product had long been out of fashion. Analysis 
showed that it was impossible to revive a velvet fash- 
ion within America. Anatomical hunt for the vital 
spot! Paris! Obviously! But yes and no. Paris is 

The New Propaganda 

the home of fashion. Lyons is the home of silk. The 
attack had to be made at the source. It was deter- 
mined to substitute purpose for chance and to utilize 
the regular soixrces for fashion distribution and to 
influence the public from these sources. A velvet 
fashion service, openly supported by the manufac- 
turers, was organized. Its first function was to es- 
tablish contact with the Lyons manufactories and 
the Paris couturiers to discover what they were doing, 
to encourage them to act on behalf of velvet, and to 
help in the proper exploitation of their wares. An 
intelligent Parisian was enlisted in the work. He vis- 
ited Lanvin and Worth, Agnes and Patou, and others 
and induced them to use velvet in their gowns and 
hats. It was he who arranged for the distinguished 
Countess This or Duchess That to wear the hat or the 
gown. And as for the presentation of the idea to the 
public, the American buyer or the American woman 
of fashion was simply shown the velvet creations in 
the atelier of the dressmaker or the milliner. She 
bought the velvet because she liked it and because 
it was in fashion. 

The editors of the American magazines and fash- 
ion reporters of the American newspapers, like- 
wise subjected to the actual (although created) cir- 
cumstance, reflected it in their news, which, in turn, 
subjected the buyer and the consumer here to the 
same influences. The result was that what was at 
first a trickle of velvet became a flood. A demand 



was slowly, but deliberately, created in Paris and 
America. A big department store, aiming to be a 
style leader, advertised velvet gowns and hats on the 
authority of the French couturiers, and quoted origi- 
nal cables received from them. The echo of the 
new style note was heard from hundreds of depart- 
ment stores throughout the country which wanted to 
be style leaders too. Bulletins followed despatches. 
The mail followed the cables. And the American 
woman traveler appeared before the ship news pho- 
tographers in velvet gown and hat. 

The created circumstances had their eflFect. “Fickle 
fashion has veered to velvet,” was one newspaper 
comment. And the industry in the United States 
again kept thousands busy. 

The new propaganda, having regard to the consti- 
tution of society as a whole, not infrequently serves 
to focus and realize the desires of the masses. A 
desire for a specific reform, however widespread, 
cannot be translated into action until it is made articu- 
late, and until it has exerted sufficient pressure upon 
the proper law-making bodies. Millions of house- 
wives may feel that manufactured foods dele- 
terious to health should be prohibited. But there 
is little chance that their individual desires will be 
translated into effective legal form unless their half- 
expressed demand can be organized, made vocal, 
and concentrated upon the state legislature or upon 
the Federal Congress in some mode which will pro- 


The New Propaganda 

duce the results they desire. Whether they realize 
it or not, they call upon propaganda to organize and 
effectuate their demand. 

But clearly it is the intelligent minorities which 
need to make use of propaganda continuously and 
systematically. In the active proselytizing minori- 
ties in whom selfish interests and public interests 
coincide lie the progress and development of Amer- 
ica. Ordy through the active energy of the intelligent 
few can the public at large become aware of and act 
upon new ideas. 

Small groups of persons can, and do, make the 
rest of us think what they please about a given sub- 
ject. But there are usually proponents and opponents 
of every propaganda, both of whom are equally 
eager to convince the majority. 



Who are the men who, without our realizing it, 
give us our ideas, tell us whom to admire and whom 
to despise, what to believe about the ownership of 
public utilities, about the tariff, about the price of 
rubber, about the Dawes Plan, about immigration j 
who tell us how our houses should be designed, what 
furniture we should put into them, what menus we 
should serve on our table, what kind of shirts we 
must wear, what sports we should indulge in, what 
plays we should see, what charities we should sup- 
port, what pictures we should admire, what slang 
we should affect, what jokes we should laugh at? 

If we set out to make a list of the men and women 
who, because of their position in public life, might 
fairly be called the molders of public opinion, we 
could quickly arrive at an extended list of persons 
mentioned in “Who’s Who.” It would obviously 
include, the President of the United States and the 
members of his Cabinet} the Senators and Repre- 
sentatives in Congress; the Governors of our forty- 
eight states; the presidents of the chambers of com- 
merce in our hundred largest cities, the chairmen of 
the boards of directors of our hundred or more 


The New Propagandists 

largest industrial corporations, the president of many 
of the labor unions affiliated in the American Fed- 
eration of Labor, the national president of each of 
the national professional and fraternal organizations, 
the president of each of the racial or language so- 
cieties in the country, the hundred leading news- 
paper and magazine editors, the fifty most popular 
authors, the presidents of the fifty leading charitable 
organizations, the twenty leading theatrical or cinema 
producers, the hundred recognized leaders of fash- 
ion, the most popular and influential clergymen in 
the hundred leading cities, the presidents of our col- 
leges and universities and the foremost members of 
their faculties, the most powerful financiers in Wall 
Street, the most noted amateurs of sport, and so on. 

Such a list would comprise several thousand 
persons. But it is well known that many of these 
leaders are themselves led, sometimes by persons 
whose names are known to few. Many a congress- 
man, in framing his platform, follows the suggestions 
of a district boss whom few persons outside the politi- 
cal machine have ever heard of. Eloquent divines 
may have great influence in their communities, but 
often take their doctrines from a higher ecclesiasti- 
cal authority. The presidents of chambers of com- 
merce mold the thought of local business men 
concerning public issues, but the opinions which they 
promulgate are usually derived from some national 
authority. A presidential candidate may be 


‘‘drafted” in response to “overwhelming popular de- 
mand,” but it is well known that his name may be 
decided upon by half a dozen men sitting around a 
table in a hotel room. 

In some instances the power of invisible wire- 
pullers is flagrant. The power of the invisible cabi- 
net which deliberated at the poker table in a certain 
little green house in Washington has become a na- 
tional legend. There was a period in which the 
major policies of the national government were dic- 
tated by a single man, Mark Hanna. A Simmons 
may, for a few years, succeed in marshaling mil- 
lions of men on a platform of intolerance and vio- 

Such persons typify in the public mind the type 
of ruler associated with the phrase invisible govern- 
ment. But we do not often stop to think that there 
are dictators in other fields whose influence is just 
as decisive as that of the politicians I have mentioned. 
An Irene Castle can establish the fashion of short 
hair which dominates nine-tenths of the women who 
make any pretense to being fashionable. Paris 
fashion leaders set the mode of the short skirt, for 
wearing which, twenty years ago, any woman would 
simply have been arrested and thrown into jail by 
the New York police, and the entire women’s 
clothing industry, capitalized at hundreds of mil- 
lions of dollars, must be reorganized to conform to 
their dictum. 


The New Propagandists , 

There are invisible rulers who control the destinies 
of millions. It is not generally realized to what ex- 
tent the words and actions of our most influential 
public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating 
behind the scenes. 

Nor, what is still more important, the extent to 
which our thoughts and habits are modified by 

In some departments of our daily life, in which 
we imagine ourselves free agents, we are ruled by 
dictators exercising great power. A man buying a 
suit of clothes imagines that he is choosing, accord- 
. ing to his taste and his personality, the kind of gar- 
ment which he prefers. In reality, he may be obey- 
ing the orders of an anonymous gentleman tailor in 
London. This personage is the silent partner in 
a modest tailoring establishment, which is patron- 
ized by gentlemen of fashion and princes of the 
blood. He suggests to British noblemen and others 
a blue cloth instead of gray, two buttons instead of 
three, or sleeves a quarter of an inch narrower than 
last season. The distinguished customer approves 
of the idea. 

But how does this fact afiFect John Smith of 

The gentleman tailor is under contract with a 
certain large American firm, which manufactures 
men’s suits, to send them instantly the designs of the 
suits chosen by the leaders of London fashion. 



Upon receiving the designs, with specifications as 
to color, weight and texture, the firm immediately 
places an order with the cloth makers for several 
hundred thousand dollars’ worth of cloth. The suits 
made up according to the specifications are then ad- 
vertised as the latest fashion. The fashionable men 
in New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia 
wear them. And the Topeka man, recognizing this 
leadership, does the same. 

Women are just as subject to the commands of 
invisible government as are men. A silk manufac- 
turer, seeking a new market for its product, sug- 
gested to a large manufacturer of shoes that women’s 
shoes should be covered with silk to match their 
dresses. The idea was adopted and systematically 
propagandized. A popular actress was persuaded to 
wear the shoes. The fashion spread. The shoe firm 
was ready with the supply to meet the created de- 
mand. And the silk company was ready with the 
silk for more shoes. 

The man who injected this idea into the shoe in- 
dustry was ruling women in one department of their 
social lives. Different men rule us in the various 
departments of our lives. There may be one power 
behind the throne in politics, another in the manipu- 
lation of the Federal discount rate, and still another 
in the dictation of next season’s dances. If there 
were a national invisible cabinet ruling our destinies 
(a thing which is not impossible to conceive of) it 

The New Propagandists 

woiild work through certain group leaders on Tues- 
day for one purpose, and through an entirely differ- 
ent set on Wednesday for another. The idea of 
invisible government is relative. There may be a 
handful of men who control the educational meth- 
ods of the great majority of our schools. Yet from 
another standpoint, every parent is a group leader 
with authority over his or her children. 

The invisible government tends to be concen- 
trated in the hands of the few because of the ex- 
pense of manipulating the social machinery which 
controls the opinions and habits of the masses. To 
advertise on a scale which will reach fifty million 
persons is expensive. To reach and persuade the 
group leaders who dictate the public’s thoughts and 
actions is likewise expensive. 

For this reason there is an increasing tendency to 
concentrate the functions of propaganda in the hands 
of the propaganda specialist. This specialist is more 
and more assuming a distinct place and function in 
our national life. 

New activities call for new nomenclature. The 
propagandist who specializes in interpreting enter- 
prises and ideas to the public, and in interpreting the 
public to promulgators of new enterprises and ideas, 
has come to be known by the name of “public rela- 
tions counsel,” 

The new profession of public relations has grown 
up because of the increasing complexity of modern 



life and the consequent necessity for making the 
actions of one part of the public understandable to 
other sectors of the public. It is due, too, to the 
increasing dependence of organized power of all sorts 
upon public opinion. Governments, whether they 
are monarchical, constitutional, democratic or com- 
munist, depend upon acquiescent public opinion for 
the success of their efforts and, in fact, government is 
only government by virtue of public acquiescence. 
Industries, public utilities, educational movements, 
indeed all groups representing any concept or prod- 
uct, whether they are majority or minority ideas, 
succeed only because of approving public opinion. 
Public opinion is the unacknowledged partner in all 
broad efforts. 

The public relations counsel, then, is the agent 
who, working with modern media of communica- 
tion and the group formations of society, brings an 
idea to the consciousness of the public. But he is 
a great deal more than that. He is concerned with 
courses of action, doctrines, systems and opinions, and 
the securing of public support for them. He is also 
concerned with tangible things such as manufactured 
and raw products. He is concerned with public utili- 
ties, with large trade groups and associations repre- 
senting entire industries. 

He functions primarily as an adviser to his client, 
very much as a lawyer does. A lawyer concentrates 
on the legal aspects of his client’s business. A coun- 


The New Propagandists 

sel on public relations concentrates on the public con- 
tacts o£ his client’s business. Every phase of his 
client’s ideas, products or activities which may afiFect 
the public or in which the public may have an in- 
terest is part of his function. 

For instance, in the specific problems of the manu- 
facturer he examines the product, the markets, the 
way in which the public reacts to the product, the at- 
titude of the employees to the public and towards 
the product, and the cooperation of the distribution 

The counsel on public relations, after he has ex- 
amined all these and other factors, endeavors to 
shape the actions of his client so that they will gain 
the interest, the approval and the acceptance of the 

The means by which the public is apprised of the 
actions of his client are as varied as the means of 
communication themselves, such as conversation, let- 
ters, the stage, the motion picture, the radio, the lec- 
ture platform, the magazine, the daily newspaper. 
The counsel on public relations is not an advertising 
man but he advocates advertising where that is indi- 
cated. Very often he is called in by an advertising 
agency to supplement its work on behalf of a client. 
His work and that of the advertising agency do not 
conflict with or duplicate each other. 

His first efforts are, naturally, devoted to analyz- 
ing his client’s problems and making sure that what 



he has to offer the public is something which the 
public accepts or can be brought to accept. It is 
futile to attempt to sell an idea or to prepare the 
ground for a product that is basically unsound. 

For example, an orphan asylum is worried by a 
falling off in contributions and a puzzling attitude 
of indifference or hostility on the part of the public. 
The counsel on public relations may discover upon 
analysis that the public, alive to modern sociological 
trends, subconsciously criticizes the institution because 
it is not organized on the new “cottage plan.” He 
will advise modification of the client in this re- 
spect. Or a railroad may be urged to put on a fast 
train for the sake of the prestige which it will lend 
to the road’s name, and hence to its stocks and bonds. 

If the corset makers, for instance, wished to bring 
their product into fashion again, he would un- 
questionably advise that the plan was impossible, 
since women have definitely emancipated themselves 
from the old-style corset. Yet his fashion advisers 
might report that women might be persuaded to 
adopt a certain type of girdle which eliminated the 
unhealthful features of the corset. 

His next effort is to analyze his public. He 
studies the groups which must be reached, and the 
leaders through whom he may approach these groups. 
Social groups, economic groups, geographical groups, 
age groups, doctrinal groups, language groups, cul- 
tural groups, all these represent the divisions through 


The New Propagandists 

which, on behalf of his client, he may talk to the 

Only after this double analysis has been made and 
the results collated, has the time come for the next 
step, the formulation of policies governing the gen- 
eral practice, procedure and habits of the client in all 
those aspects in which he comes in contact with the 
public. And only when these policies have been 
agreed upon is it time for the fourth step. 

The first recognition of the distinct functions of 
the public relations counsel arose, perhaps, in the 
early years of the present century as a result of the 
insurance scandals coincident with the muck-raking 
of corporate finance in the popular magazines. The 
interests thus attacked suddenly realized that they 
were completely out of touch with the public they 
were professing to serve, and required expert advice 
to show them how they could understand the public 
and interpret themselves to it. 

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 
prompted by the most fundamental self-interest, in- 
itiated a conscious, directed effort to change the atti- 
tude of the public toward insurance companies in 
general, and toward itself in particular, to its profit 
and the public’s benefit. 

It tried to make a majority movement of itself 
by getting the public to buy its policies. It reached 
the public at every point of its corporate and separate 
existences. To communities it gave health surveys 



and expert counsel. To individuals it gave health 
creeds and advice. Even the building in which the 
corporation was located was made a picturesque land- 
mark to see and remember, in other words to carry 
on the associative process. And so this company 
came to have a broad general acceptance. The num- 
ber and amount of its policies grew constantly, as 
its broad contacts with society increased. 

Within a decade, many large corporations were 
employing public relations counsel under one title or 
another, for they had come to recognize that they 
depended upon public good will for their continued 
prosperity. It was no longer true that it was “none 
of the public’s business” how the affairs of a corpora- 
tion were managed. They were obliged to convince 
the public that they were conforming to its demands 
as to honesty and fairness. Thus a corporation might 
discover that its labor policy was causing public re- 
sentment, and might introduce a more enlightened 
policy solely for the sake of general good will. Or a 
department store, hunting for the cause of diminish- 
ing sales, might discover that its clerks had a repu- 
tation for bad manners, and initiate formal instruction 
in courtesy and tact. 

The public relations expert may be known as public 
relations director or counsel. Often he is called sec- 
retary or vice-president or director. Sometimes he 
is known as cabinet officer or commissioner. By what- 
ever title he may be called, his function is well 


The New Propagandists 

defined and his advice has definite bearing on the 
conduct of the group or individual with whom he is 

Many persons still believe that the public rela- 
tions counsel is a propagandist and nothing else. 
But, on the contrary, the stage at which many suppose 
he starts his activities may actually be the stage at 
which he ends them. After the public and the 
client are thoroughly analyzed and policies have 
been formulated, his work may be finished. In 
other cases the work of the public relations counsel 
must be continuous to be eflFective. For in many in- 
stances only by a careful system of constant, thorough 
and frank information will the public understand and 
appreciate the value of what a merchant, educator or 
statesman is doing. The counsel on public relations 
must maintain constant vigilance, because inadequate 
information, or false information from unknown 
sources, may have results of enormous importance. 
A single false rumor at a critical moment may drive 
down the price of a corporation’s stock, causing a loss 
of millions to stockholders. An air of secrecy or 
mystery about a corporation’s financial dealings may 
breed a general suspicion capable of acting as an in- 
visible drag on the company’s whole dealings with 
the public. The counsel on public relations must be 
in a position to deal effectively with rumors and sus- 
picions, attempting to stop them at their source, 
counteracting them promptly with correct or more 



complete information through channels which will be 
most effective, or best of all establishing such rela- 
tions of confidence in the concern’s integrity that 
rumors and suspicions wiU have no opportxmity to 
take root. 

His function may include the discovery of new 
markets, the existence of which had been im- 

If we accept public relations as a profession, we 
must also expect it to have both ideals and ethics. 
The ideal of the profession is a pragmatic one. It is 
to make the producer, whether that producer be a 
legislature making laws or a manufacturer making 
a commercial product, understand what the public 
wants and to make the public understand the objec- 
tives of the producer. In relation to industry, the 
ideal of the profession is to eliminate the waste and 
the friction that result when industry does things or 
makes things which its public does not want, or when 
the public does not understand what is being offered 
it. For example, the telephone companies maintain 
extensive public relations departments to explain 
what they are doing, so that energy may not be 
burned up in the friction of misunderstanding. A 
detailed description, for example, of the immense 
and scientific care which the company takes to choose 
clearly understandable and distinguishable exchange 
names, helps the public to appreciate the effort that is 
being made to give good service, and stimulates it to 


The New Propagandists 

cooperate by enunciating clearly. It aims to bring 
about an understanding between educators and edu- 
cated, between government and people, between 
charitable institutions and contributors, between na- 
tion and nation. 

The profession of public relations counsel is de- 
veloping for itself an ethical code which compares 
favorably with that governing the legal and medical 
professions. In part, this code is forced upon the 
public relations counsel by the very conditions of his 
work. While recognizing, just as the lawyer does, 
that every one has the right to present his case in its 
best light, he nevertheless refuses a client whom 
he believes to be dishonest, a product which he be- 
lieves to be fraudulent, or a cause which he believes 
to be antisocial. One reason for this is that, even 
though a special pleader, he is not dissociated from 
the client in the public’s mind. Another reason is 
that while he is pleading before the court — ^the court 
of public opinion — ^he is at the same time trying to 
affect that court’s judgments and actions. In law, 
the judge and jury hold the deciding balance of 
power. In public opinion, the public relations coun- 
sel is judge and jury, because through his pleading 
of a case the public may accede to his opinion and 

He does not accept a client whose interests con- 
flict with those of another client. He does not accept 



a client whose case he believes to be hopeless or 
whose product he believes to be unmarketable. 

He should be candid in his dealings. It must be 
repeated that his business is not to fool or hoodwink 
the public. If he were to get such a reputation, his 
usefulness in his profession would be at an end. 
When he is sending out propaganda material, it is 
clearly labeled as to source. The editor knows from 
whom it comes and what its purpose is, and accepts 
or rejects it on its merits as news. 



The systematic study of mass psychology re- 
vealed to students the potentialities of invisible gov- 
ernment of society by manipulation of the motives 
which actuate man in the group. Trotter and Le 
Bon, who approached the subject in a scientific man- 
ner, and Graham Wallas, Walter Lippmann and 
others who continued with searching studies of the 
group mind, established that the group has mental 
characteristics distinct from those of the individual, 
and is motivated by impulses and emotions which 
cannot be explained on the basis of what we know 
of individual psychology. So the question naturally 
arose: If we understand the mechanism and motives 
of the group mind, is it not possible to control and 
regiment the masses according to our will without 
their knowing it? 

The recent practice of propaganda has proved that 
it is possible, at least up to a certain point and within 
certain limits. Mass psychology is as yet far from 
being an exact science and the mysteries of human 
motivation are by no means all revealed. But at 
least theory and practice have combined with suffi- 
cient success to permit us to know that in certain 



cases we can eflFect some change in public opinion 
with a fair degree of accuracy by operating a certain 
mechanism, just as the motorist can regulate the 
speed of his car by manipulating the flow of gaso- 
line, Propaganda is not a science in the laboratory 
sense, but it is no longer entirely the empirical affair 
that it was before the advent of the study of mass 
psychology. It is now scientific in the sense that it 
seeks to base its operations upon definite knowledge 
drawn from direct observation of the group mind, 
and upon the application of principles which have 
been demonstrated to be consistent and relatively 

The modern propagandist studies systematically 
and objectively the material with which he is working 
in the spirit of the laboratory. If the matter in 
hand is a nation-wide sales campaign, he studies the 
field by means of a clipping service, or of a corps of 
scouts, or by personal study at a crucial spot. He 
determines, for example, which features of a product 
are losing their public appeal, and in what new direc- 
tion the public taste is veering. He will not fail to 
investigate to what extent it is the wife who has the 
final word in the choice of her husband’s car, or of 
his suits and shirts. 

Scientific accuracy of results is not to be expected, 
because many of the elements of the situation must 
always be beyond his control. He may know with a 
fair degree of certainty that under favorable cir- 


The Psychology of Public Relations 

cumstances an international flight will produce a 
spirit of good will, making possible even the con- 
summation of political programs. But he cannot be 
sure that some unexpected event will not overshadow 
this flight in the public interest, or that some other 
aviator may not do something more spectacular the 
day before. Even in his restricted field of public 
psychology there must always be a wide margin of 
error. Propaganda, like economics and sociology, 
can never be an exact science for the reason that its 
subject-matter, like theirs, deals with human beings. 

If you can influence the leaders, either with or 
without their conscious cooperation, you automatically 
influence the group which they sway. But men 
do not need to be actually gathered together in a 
public meeting or in a street riot, to be subject to the 
influences of mass psychology. Because man is by 
nature gregarious he feels himself to be member of 
a herd, even when he is alone in his room with the 
curtains drawn. His mind retains the patterns which 
have been stamped on it by the group influences. 

A man sits in his office deciding what stocks to buy. 
He imagines, no doubt, that he is planning his pur- 
chases according to his own judgment. In actual 
fact his judgment is a melange of impressions 
stamped on his mind by outside influences which un- 
consciously control his thought. He buys a certain 
railroad stock because it was in the headlines yester- 
day and hence is the one which comes most promi- 



nently to his mindj because he has a pleasant 
recollection of a good dinner on one of its fast 
trains j because it has a liberal labor policy, a reputa- 
tion for honesty 5 because he has been told that 
J. P. Morgan owns some of its shares. 

Trotter and Le Bon concluded that the group 
mind does not think in the strict sense of the word. 
In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emo- 
tions. In making up its mind its first impulse is 
usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. 
This is one of the most firmly established principles 
of mass psychology. It operates in establishing the 
rising or diminishing prestige of a summer resort, in 
causing a run on a bank, or a panic on the stock ex- 
change, in creating a best seller, or a box-office 

But when the example of the leader is not at hand 
and the herd must think for itself, it does so by 
means of cliches, pat words or images which stand 
for a whole group of ideas or experiences. Not 
many years ago, it was only necessary to tag a political 
candidate with the word interests to stampede 
millions of people into voting against him, because 
anything associated with “the interests” seemed nec- 
essarily corrupt. Recently the word Bolshevik 
has performed a similar service for persons who 
wished to frighten the public away from a line of 

By playing upon an old cliche, or manipulating a 

The Psychology of Public Relations 

new one, the propagandist can sometimes swing a 
whole mass of group emotions. In Great Britain, 
during the war, the evacuation hospitals came in for 
a considerable amount of criticism because of the 
summary way in which they handled their wounded. 
It was assumed by the public that a hospital gives 
prolonged and conscientious attention to its patients. 
When the name was changed to evacuation posts 
the critical reaction vanished. No one expected more 
than an adequate emergency treatment from an insti- 
tution so named. The cliche hospital was indelibly 
associated in the public mind with a certain picture. 
To persuade the public to discriminate between one 
type of hospital and another, to dissociate the cliche 
from the picture it evoked, would have been an im- 
possible task. Instead, a new cliche automatically 
conditioned the public emotion toward these hospi- 

Men are rarely aware of the real reasons which 
motivate their actions. A man may believe that he 
buys a motor car because, after careful study of the 
technical features of all makes on the market, he 
has concluded that this is the best. He is almost 
certainly fooling himself. He bought it, perhaps, 
because a friend whose financial acumen he respects 
bought one last week} or because his neighbors be- 
lieved he was not able to afford a car of that class j 
or because its colors are those of his college fra^ 


It is chiefly the psychologists of the school of 
Freud who have pointed out that many of man’s 
thoughts and actions are compensatory substitutes 
for desires which he has been obliged to suppress. 
A thing may be desired not for its intrinsic worth 
or usefulness, but because he has unconsciously come 
to see in it a symbol of something else, the desire for 
which he is ashamed to admit to himself. A man 
buying a car may think he wants it for purposes of 
locomotion, whereas the fact may be that he would 
really prefer not to be burdened with it, and would 
rather walk for the sake of his health. He may 
really want it because it is a symbol of social position, 
an evidence of his success in business, or a means of 
pleasing his wife. 

This general principle, that men are very largely 
actuated bv motives which they conceal from them- 
selves, is as true of mass as of individual psychology. 
It is evident that the successful propagandist must 
understand the true motives and not be content to 
accept the reasons which men give for what they do. 

It is not sufficient to imderstand only the me- 
chanical structure of society, the groupings and 
cleavages and loyalties. An engineer may know all 
about the cylinders and pistons of a locomotive, but 
unless he knows how steam behaves under pressure 
he cannot make his engine run. Human desires 
are the steam which makes the social machine work. 
Only by understanding them can the propagandist 


The Psychology of Public Relations 

control that vast, loose-jointed mechanism which is 
modern society. 

The old propagandist based his work on the mech- 
anistic reaction psychology then in vogue in our 
colleges. This assurhed that the human mind was 
merely an individual machine, a system of nerves 
and nerve centers, reacting with mechanical regularity 
to stimuli, like a helpless, will-less automaton. It 
was the special pleader’s function to provide the 
stimulus which would cause the desired reaction in 
the individual purchaser. 

It was one of the doctrines of the reaction psy- 
chology that a certain stimulus often repeated would 
create a habit, or that the mere reiteration of an idea 
would create a conviction. Suppose the old type of 
salesmanship, acting for a meat packer, was seeking to 
increase the sale of bacon. It would reiterate innu- 
merable times in full-page advertisements: “Eat 
more bacon. Eat bacon because it is cheap, because 
it is good, because it gives you reserve energy.” 

The newer salesmabship, understanding the group 
structure of society and the principles of mass psy- 
chology, would first ask: “Who is it that Influences 
the eating habits of the public?” The answer, ob- 
viously, is: “The physicians.” The new salesman 
will then suggest to physicians to say publicly that 
it is wholesome to eat bacon. He knows as a mathe- 
matical certainty, that large numbers of persons will 
follow the advice of their doctors, because he xmder- 



stands the psychological relation o£ dependence of 
men upon their physicians. 

The old-fashioned propagandist, using almost ex- 
clusively the appeal of the printed word, tried to 
persuade the individual reader to buy a definite 
article, immediately. This approach is exemplified 
in a type of advertisement which used to be con- 
sidered ideal from the point of view of directness 
and effectiveness: 

“YOU (perhaps with a finger pointing at the 
reader) buy O’Leary^s rubber heels— P 

The advertiser sought by means of reiteration and 
emphasis directed upon the individual, to break down 
or penetrate sales i-esistance. Although the appeal 
was aimed at fifty million persons, it was aimed at 
each as an individual. 

The new salesmanship has found it possible, by 
dealing with men in the mass through their group 
formations, to set up psychological and emotional 
currents which will work for him. Instead of as- 
saulting sales resistance by direct attack, he is inter- 
ested in removing sales resistance. He creates 
circumstances which will swing emotional currents 
so as to make for purchaser demand. 

If, for instance, I want to sell pianos, it is not suf- 
ficient to blanket the country with a direct appeal, 
such as: 

“YOU buy a 'Mozart 'piano now. It is cheap. 
The best artists use it. It will last for year si’ 


The Psychology of Public Relations 

The claims may all be true, but they are in direct 
conflict with the claims of other piano manufac- 
turers, and in indirect competition with the claims 
of a radio or a motor car, each competing for the 
consumer’s dollar. 

What are the true reasons why the purchaser is 
planning to spend his money on a new car instead of 
on a new piano? Because he has decided that he 
wants the commodity called locomotion more than 
he wants the commodity called music? Not alto- 
gether. He buys a car, because it is at the moment 
the group custom to buy cars. 

The modern propagandist therefore sets to work 
to create circumstances which will modify that cus- 
tom. He appeals perhaps to the home instinct which 
is fundamental. He will endeavor to develop public 
acceptance of the idea of a music room in the home. 
This he may do, for example, by organizing an ex- 
hibition of period music rooms designed by well 
known decorators who themselves exert an influence 
on the buying groups. He enhances the effectiveness 
and prestige of these rooms by putting in them rare 
and valuable tapestries. Then, in order to create 
dramatic interest in the exhibit, he stages an event 
or ceremony. To this ceremony key people, persons 
known to influence the buying habits of the public, 
such as a famous violinist, a popular artist, and a 
society leader, are invited. These key persons affect 
other groups, lifting the idea of the music room to a 


place in the public consciousness which it did not 
have before. The juxtaposition of these leaders, 
and the idea which they are dramatizing, are then 
projected to the wider public through various pub- 
licity channels. Meanwhile, influential architects 
have been persuaded to make the music room an 
integral architectural part of their plans with per- 
haps a specially charming niche in one corner for 
the piano. Less influential architects will as a matter 
of course imitate what is done by the men whom they 
consider masters of their profession. They In turn 
will implant the idea of the music room in the mind 
of the general public. 

The music room will be accepted because it has 
been made the thing. And the man or woman 
who has a music room, or has arranged a corner of 
the parlor as a musical corner, will naturally think 
of buying a piano. It will come to him as his own 

Under the old salesmanship the manufacturer said 
to the prospective purchaser, ‘‘Please buy a piano.” 
The new salesmanship has reversed the process and 
caused the prospective purchaser to say to the manu- 
facturer, “Please sell me a piano.” 

The value of the associative processes in propa- 
ganda is shown in connection with a large real estate 
development. To emphasize that Jackson Heights 
was socially desirable every attempt was made to 
produce this associative process. A benefit perform- 


The Psychology of Public Relations 

ance of the Jitney Players was staged for the benefit 
of earthquake victims of Japan, under the auspices 
of Mrs. Astor and others. The social advantages 
of the place were projected — a golf course was 
laid out and a clubhouse planned. When the 
post ofiice was opened, the public relations counsel 
attempted to use it as a focus for national interest 
and discovered that its opening fell coincident with 
a date important in the annals of the American Postal 
Service. This was then made the basis of the 

When an attempt was made to show the public the 
beauty of the apartments, a competition was held 
among interior decorators for the best furnished 
apartment in Jackson Heights. An important com- 
mittee of judges decided. This competition drew 
the approval of well known authorities, as well as 
the interest of millions, who were made cognizant of 
it through newspaper and magazine and other pub- 
licity, with the effect of building up definitely the 
prestige of the development. 

One of the most effective methods is the utilization 
of the group formation of modern society in order 
to spread ideas. An example of this is the nation- 
wide competitions for sculpture in Ivory soap, open 
to school children in certain age groups as well as 
professional sculptors. A sculptor of national repu- 
tation found Ivory soap an excellent medium for 



The Procter and Gamble Company offered a series 
of prizes for the best sculpture in white soap. The 
contest was held under the auspices of the Art 
Center in New York City, an organization of high 
standing in the art world. 

School superintendents and teachers throughout 
the country were glad to encourage the movement as 
an educational aid for schools. Practice among 
school children as part of their art courses was stim- 
ulated. Contests were held between schools, be- 
tween school districts and between cities. 

Ivory soap was adaptable for sculpturing in the 
homes because mothers saved the shavings and the 
imperfect efforts for laundry purposes. The work 
itself was clean. 

The best pieces are selected from the local com- 
petitions for entry in the national contest. This is 
held annually at an important art gallery in New 
York, whose prestige with that of the distinguished 
judges, establishes the contest as a serious art event. 

In the first of these national competitions about 
500 pieces of sculpture were entered. In the 
third, 2,500. And in the fourth, more than 4,000. 
If the carefully selected pieces were so numerous, 
it is evident that a vast number were sculptured dur- 
ing the year, and that a much greater number 
must have been made for practice purposes. The 
good will was greatly enhanced by the fact that this 
soap had become not merely the concern of the 


The Psychology of Public Relations 

housewife but also a matter of personal and intimate 
interest to her children. 

A number of familiar psychological motives were 
set in motion in the carrying out of this campaign. 
The esthetic, the competitive, the gregarious (much 
of the sculpturing was done in school groups), the 
snobbish (the impulse to follow the example of a 
recognized leader), the exhibitionist, and — ^last but 
by no means least — ^the maternal. 

All these motives and group habits were put in 
concerted motion by the simple machinery of group 
leadership and authority. As if actuated by the 
pressure of a button, people began working for the 
client for the sake of the gratification obtained in the 
sculpture work itself. 

This point is most important in successful propa- 
ganda work. The leaders who lend their authority 
to any propaganda campaign will do so only if it can 
be made to touch their own interests. There must 
be a disinterested aspect of the propagandist’s activi- 
ties. In other words, it is one of the functions of the 
public relations counsel to discover at what points 
his client’s interests coincide with those of other indi- 
viduals or groups. 

In the case of the soap sculpture competition, the 
distinguished artists and educators who sponsored 
the idea were glad to lend their services and their 
names because the competitions really promoted an 
interest which they had at heart — the cultivation of 


the esthetic impulse among the younger generation. 

Such coincidence and overlapping of interests is 
as infinite as the interlacing of group formations 
themselves. For example, a railway wishes to de- 
velop its business. The counsel on public relations 
makes a survey to discover at what points its interests 
coincide with those of its prospective customers. The 
company then establishes relations with chambers of 
commerce along its right of way and assists them in 
developing their communities. It helps them to 
secure new plants and industries for the town. It 
facilitates business through the dissemination of 
technical information. It is not merely a case of 
bestowing favors in the hope of receiving favors; 
these activities of the railroad, besides creating good 
will, actually promote growth on its right of way. 
The interests of the railroad and the communities 
through which it passes mutually interact and feed 
one another. 

In the same way, a bank institutes an investment 
service for the benefit of its customers in order that 
the latter may have more money to deposit with the 
bank. Or a jewelry concern develops an insurance 
department to insure the jewels it sells, in order to 
make the purchaser feel greater security in buying 
jewels. Or a baking company establishes an in- 
formation service suggesting recipes for bread to 
encourage new uses for bread in the home. 


The Psychology of Public Relations 

The ideas of the new propaganda are predicated 
on sound psychology based on enlightened self- 

I have tried, in these chapters, to explain the place 
of propaganda in modern American life and some- 
thing of the methods by which it operates — ^to tell 
the why, the what, the who and the how of the 
invisible government which dictates our thoughts, 
directs our feelings and controls our actions. In the 
following chapters I shall try to show how propa- 
ganda functions in specific departments of group 
activity, to suggest some of the further ways in 
which it may operate. 



The relationship between business and the public 
has become closer in the past few decades. Business 
to-day is taking the public into partnership. A num- 
ber of causes, some economic, others due to the grow- 
ing public understanding of business and the public 
interest in business, have produced this situation. 
Business realizes that its relationship to the public 
is not confined to the manufacture and sale of a given 
product, but includes at the same time the selling of 
itself and of all those things for which it stands in 
the public mind. 

Twenty or twenty-five years ago, business sought 
to run its own affairs regardless of the public. The 
reaction tvas the muck-raking period, in which a 
multitude of sins were, justly and unjustly, laid to 
the charge of the interests. In the face of an 
aroused public consdence the large corporations were 
obliged to renounce their contention that their affairs 
were nobody’s business. If to-day big business 
were to seek to throttle the public, a new reaction 
similar to that of twenty years ago would take place 
and the public would rise and try to throttle big 
business with restrictive laws. Business is consdous 

Business and the Public 

of the public’s conscience. This consciousness has 
led to a healthy cooperation. 

Another cause for the increasing relationship is 
undoubtedly to be found in the various phenomena 
growing out of mass production. Mass production 
is only profitable if its rhythm can be maintained — 
that is, if it can continue to sell its product in steady 
or increasing quantity. The result is that while, 
under the handicraft or small-unit system of produc- 
tion that was typical a century ago, demand created 
the supply, to-day supply must actively seek to create 
its corresponding demand. A single factory, poten- 
tially capable of supplying a whole continent with its 
particular product, cannot afford to wait until the 
public asks for its product j it must maintain constant 
touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the 
vast public in order to assure itself the continuous 
demand which alone will make its costly plant profit- 
able. This entails a vastly more complex system of 
distribution than formerly. To make customers is 
the new problem. One must understand not only his 
own business — ^the manufacture of a particular prod- 
uct — ^but also the structure, the personality, the prej- 
udices, of a potentially universal public. 

Still another reason is to be found in the improve- 
ments in the technique of advertising — as regards 
both the size of the public which can be reached 
by the printed word, and the methods of appeal. 
The growth of newspapers and magazines having a 



circulation of millions of copies, and the art of the 
modern advertising expert in making the printed 
message attractive and persuasive, have placed the 
business man in a personal relation with a vast and 
diversified public. 

Another modern phenomenon, which influences 
the general policy of big business, is the new compe- 
tition between certain firms and the remainder of the 
industry, to which they belong. Another kind of 
competition is between whole industries, in their 
struggle for a share of the consumer’s dollar. 
When, for example, a soap manufacturer claims that 
his product will preserve youth, he is obviously at- 
tempting to change the public’s mode of thinking 
about soap in general — z thing of grave importance 
to the whole industry. Or when the metal furniture 
industry seeks to convince the public that it is more 
desirable to spend its money for metal furniture than 
for wood furniture, it is clearly seeking to alter the 
taste and standards of a whole generation. In either 
case, business is seeking to inject itself into the lives 
and customs of millions of persons. 

Even in a basic sense, business is becoming depend- 
ent on public opinion. With the increasing volume 
and wider diffusion of wealth in America, thousands 
of persons now invest in industrial stocks. New stock 
or bond flotations, upon which an expanding business 
must depend for its success, can be effected only if 
the concern has understood how to gain the confi- 


Business and the Public 

dence and good will of the general public. Business 
must express itself and its entire corporate existence 
so that the public will understand and accept it. It 
must dramatize its personality and interpret its ob- 
jectives in every particular in which it comes into 
contact with the community (or the nation) of which 
it is a part. 

An oil corporation which truly understands its 
many-sided relation to the public, will offer that 
public not only good oil but a sound labor policy. A 
bank will seek to show not only that its management 
is sound and conservative, but also that its officers are 
honorable both in their public and in their private life. 
A store specializing in fashionable men’s clothing 
will express in its architecture the authenticity of the 
goods it offers. A bakery will seek to impress the 
public with the hygienic care observed in its manu- 
facturing process, not only by wrapping its loaves in 
dust-proof paper and throwing its factory open to 
public inspection, but also by the cleanliness and at- 
tractiveness of its delivery wagons. A construction 
firm will take care that the public knows not only 
that its buildings are durable and safe, but also that 
its employees, when injured at work, are com- 
pensated. At whatever point a business enterprise 
impinges on the public consciousness, it must seek to 
give its public relations the particular character which 
will conform to the objectives which it is pursuing. 

Just as the production manager must be familiar 



with every element and detail concerning the mate- 
rials with which he is working, so the man in charge 
of a firm’s public relations must be familiar with the 
structure, the prejudices, and the whims of the gen- 
eral public, and must handle his problems with the 
utmost care. The public has its own standards and 
demands and habits. You may modify them, but 
you dare not run counter to them. You cannot per- 
suade a whole generation of women to wear long 
skirts, but you may, by working through leaders of 
fashion, persuade them to wear evening dresses 
which are long in back. The public is not an amor- 
phous mass which can be molded at will, or dictated 
to. Both business and the public have their own per- 
sonalities which must somehow ,be brought into 
friendly agreement. Conflict and suspicion are in- 
jurious to both. Modern business must study on 
what terms the partnership can be made amicable and 
mutually beneficial. It must explain itself, its aims, 
its objectives, to the public in terms which the public 
can understand and is willing to accept. 

Business does not willingly accept dictation from 
the public. It should not expect that it can dictate 
to the public. While the public should appreciate 
the great economic benefits which business offers, 
thanks to mass production and scientific marketing, 
business should also appreciate that the public is 
becoming increasingly discriminative in its standards 
and should seek to understand Its demands and meet 


Business and the Public 

them. The relationship between business and the 
public can be healthy only if it is the relationship of 
give and take. 

It is this condition and necessity which has created 
the need for a specialized field of public relations. 
Business now calls in the public relations counsel to 
advise it, to interpret its purpose to the public, and to 
suggest those modifications which may make it con- 
form to the public demand. 

The modifications then recommended to make the 
business conform to its objectives and to the public 
demand, may concern the broadest matters of policy 
or the apparently most trivial details of execution. 
It might in one case be necessary to transform entirely 
the lines of goods sold to conform to changing public 
demands. In another case the trouble may be found 
to lie in such small matters as the dress of the clerks. 
A jewelry store may complain that its patronage is 
shrinking upwards because of its reputation for 
carrying high-priced goods} in this case the public 
relations counsel might suggest the featuring of 
medium-priced goods, even at a loss, not because the 
firm desires a large medium-price trade as such, but 
because out of a hundred medium-price customers 
acquired to-day a certain percentage will be well-to- 
do ten years from now. A department store which is 
seeking to gather in the high-class trade may be urged 
to employ college graduates as clerks or to engage 
well known modern artists to design show-windows 



or special exhibits. A bank may be urged to open a 
Fifth Avenue branch, not because the actual business 
done on Fifth Avenue warrants the expense, but 
because a beautiful Fifth Avenue office correctly ex- 
presses the kind of appeal which it wishes to make to 
future depositors; and, viewed in this way, it may be 
as important that the doorman be polite, or that the 
floors be kept clean, as that the branch manager be an 
able financier. Yet the beneficial effect of this 
branch may be canceled, if the wife of the president 
is involved in a scandal. 

Big business studies every move which may express 
its true personality. It seeks to tell the public, in all 
appropriate ways, — ^by the direct advertising message 
and by the subtlest esthetic suggestion — the quality 
of the goods or services which it has to offer. A 
store which seeks a large sales volume in cheap goods 
will preach prices day in and day out, concentrating 
its whole appeal on the ways in which it can save 
money for its clients. But a store seeking a high 
margin of profit on individual sales would try to 
associate itself with the distinguished and the elegant, 
whether by an exhibition of old masters or through 
the social activities of the owner’s wife. 

The public relations activities of a business cannot 
be a protective coloring to hide its real aims. It is 
bad business as well as bad morals to feature exclu- 
sively a few high-class articles, when the main stock 
is of medium grade or cheap, for the general im- 


Business and the Public 

pression given is a "false one. A sound public rela- 
tions policy will not attempt to stampede the public 
with exaggerated claims and false pretenses, but to 
interpret the individual business vividly and truly 
through every avenue that leads to public opinion. 
The New York Central Railroad has for decades 
sought to appeal to the public not only on the basis 
of the speed and safety of its trains, but also on the 
basis of their elegance and comfort. It is appropriate 
that the corporation should have been personified to 
the general public in the person of so suave and in- 
gratiating a gentleman as Ghauncey M. Depew — ^an 
ideal window dressing for such an enterprise. 

While the concrete recommendations of the public 
relations counsel may vary infinitely according to 
individual circumstances, his general plan of work 
may be reduced to two types, which I might term 
continuous interpretation and dramatization by high- 
spotting. The two may be alternative or may be 
pursued concurrently. 

Continuous interpretation is achieved by trying to 
control every approach to the public mind in such a 
manner that the public receives the desired impression, 
often without being conscious of it. High-spotting, 
on the other hand, vividly seizes the attention of the 
public and fixes it upon some detail or aspect which is 
typical of the entire enterprise. When a real estate 
corporation which is erecting a tall office building 



makes it ten feet taller than the highest sky-scraper 
in existence, that is dramatization. 

Which method is indicated, or whether both be 
indicated concurrently, can be determined only after 
a full study of objectives and specific possibilities. 

Another interesting case of focusing public atten- 
tion on the virtues of a product was shown in the case 
of gelatine. Its advantages in increasing the diges- 
tibility and nutritional value of milk were proven 
in the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. The 
suggestion was made and carried out that to further 
this knowledge, gelatine be used by certain hospitals 
and school systems, to be tested out there. The 
favorable results of such tests were then projected 
to other leaders in the field with the result that they 
followed that group leadership and utilized gelatine 
for the scientific purposes which had been proven to 
be sound at the research institution. The idea car- 
ried momentum. 

The tendency of big business is to get bigger. 
Through mergers and monopolies it is constantly 
increasing the number of persons with whom it is in 
direct contact. All this has intensified and multiplied 
the public relationships of business. 

The responsibilities are of man^ kinds. There is 
a responsibility to the stockholders — numbering per- 
haps five persons or five hundred thousand — ^who 
have entrusted their money to the concern and have 
the right to know how the money is being used. A 


Business and the Public 

concern which is fully aware of its responsibility to- 
ward its stockholders, will furnish them with fre- 
quent letters urging them to use the product in which 
their money is invested, and use their influence to 
promote its sale. It has a responsibility toward the 
dealer which it may express- by inviting him, at its 
expense, to visit the home factory. It has a responsi- 
bility toward the industry as a whole which should 
restrain it from making exaggerated and unfair sell- 
ing claims. It has a responsibility toward the re- 
tailer, and will see to it that its salesmen express 
the quality of the product which they have to sell. 
There is a responsibility toward the consumer, who 
is impressed by a clean and well managed factory, 
open to his inspection. And the general public, apart 
from its function as potential consumer, is influenced 
in its attitude toward the concern by what it knows 
of that concern’s financial dealings, its labor policy, 
even by the livableness of the houses in which its 
employees dwell. There is no detail too trivial to 
influence the public in a favorable or unfavorable 
sense. The personality of the president may be a 
matter of importance, for he perhaps dramatizes the 
whole concern to the public mind. It may be very 
important to what charities he contributes, in what 
civic societies he holds ofiice. If he is a leader in his 
industry, the public may demand that he be a leader 
in his community. 

The business man has become a responsible member 


of the social group. It is not a question of ballyhoo, 
of creating a picturesque fiction for public consump- 
tion. It is merely a question of finding the appro- 
priate modes of expressing the personality that is to 
be dramatized. Some business men can be their own 
best public relations counsel. But in the majority of 
cases knowledge of the public mind and of the ways 
in which it will react to an appeal, is a specialized 
function which must be undertaken by the profes- 
sional expert. 

Big business, I believe, is realizing this more and 
more. It is increasingly availing itself of the serv- 
ices of the specialist in public relations (whatever 
may be the title accorded him). And it is my con- 
viction that as big business becomes bigger the need 
for expert manipulation of its innumerable contacts 
with the public will become greater. 

One reason why the public relations of a business 
are frequently placed in the hands of an outside 
expert, instead of being confided to an officer of the 
company, is the fact that the correct approach to a 
problem may be indirect. For example, when the 
luggage industry attempted to solve some of its 
problems by a public relations policy, it was realized 
that the attitude of railroads, of steamship companies, 
and of foreign government-owned railroads was 
an important factor in the handling of luggage. 

If a railroad and a baggage man, for their own 
interest, can be educated to handle baggage with more 

Business and the Public 

facility and promptness, with less damage to the 
baggage, and less inconvenience to the passenger 5 
if the steamship company lets down, in its own in- 
terests, its restrictions on luggage y if the foreign 
government eases up on its baggage costs and trans- 
portation in order to further tourist travel; then the 
luggage manufacturers will profit. 

The problem then, to increase the sale of their 
luggage, was to have these and other forces come 
over to their point of view. Hence the public rela- 
tions campaign was directed not to the public, who 
were the ultimate consumers, but to these other ele- 

Also, if the luggage manufacturer can educate 
the general public on what to wear on trips and when 
to wear it, he may be increasing the sale of men’s 
and women’s clothing, but he will, at the same time, 
be increasing the sale of his luggage. 

Propaganda, since it goes to basic causes, can very 
often be most ejffective through the manner of its 
introduction. A campaign against unhealthy cos- 
metics might be waged by fighting for a return to 
the wash-cloth and soap — -a fight that very logically 
might be taken up by health officials all over the 
country, who would urge the return to the salutary 
and helpful wash-cloth and soap, instead of cos- 

The development of public opinion for a cause 
or line of socially constructive action may very often 

73 - ■ 

' Propaganda 

be the result of a desire on the part of the propa- 
gandist to meet successfully his own problem which 
the socially constructive cause would further. And 
by doing so he is actually fulfilling a social purpose 
in the broadest sense. 

The soundness of a public relations policy was 
likewise shown in the case of a shoe manufactuier 
who made service shoes for patrolmen, firemen, let- 
ter carriers, and men in similar occupations. He 
realized that if he could make acceptable the idea 
that men in such work ought to be well-shod, he 
would sell more shoes and at the same time further 
the efficiency of the men. 

He organized, as part of his business, a foot pro- 
tection bureau. This bureau disseminated scientifi- 
cally accurate information on the proper care of the 
feet, principles which the manufacturer had incor- 
porated in the construction of the shoes. The result 
was that civic bodies, police chiefs, fire chiefs, and 
others interested in the welfare and comfort of their 
men, furthered the ideas his product stood for and 
the product itself, with the consequent effect that 
more of his shoes were sold more easily. 

The application of this principle of a common 
denominator of interest between the object that is 
sold and the public good will can be carried to in- 
finite degrees. 

“It matters not how much capital you may have, 
how fair the rates may be, how favorable the condi- 


Business and the Public 

tions of service, if you haven’t behind you a sympa- 
thetic public opinion, you are bound to fail.” This 
is the opinion of Samuel Insull, one the foremost 
traction magnates of the country. And the late 
Judge Gary, of the United States Steel Corporation, 
expressed the same idea when he said: “Once you 
have the good will of the general public, you can go 
ahead in the work of constructive expansion. Too 
often many try to discount this vague and intangible 
element. That way lies destruction.” 

Public opinion is no longer inclined to be unfavor- 
able to the large business merger. It resents the 
censorship of business by the Federal Trade Com- 
mission. It has broken down the anti-trust laws 
where it thinks they hinder economic develop- 
ment. It backs great trusts and mergers which it 
excoriated a decade ago. The government now per- 
mits large aggregations of producing and distributing 
units, as evidenced by mergers among railroads and 
other public utilities, because representative govern- 
ment reflects public opinion. Public opinion itself 
fosters the growth of mammoth industrial enter- 
prises. In the opinion of millions of small investors, 
mergers and trusts are friendly giants and not ogres, 
because of the economies, mainly due to quantity 
production, which they have effected, and can pass 
on to the consumer. 

This result has been, to a great extent, obtained 
by a deliberate use of propaganda in its broadest 



sense. It was obtained not only by modifying the 
opinion of the public, as the governments modified 
and marshaled the opinion of their publics during 
the war, but often by modifying the business concern 
itself. A cement company may work with road com- 
missions gratuitously to maintain testing laboratories 
in order to insure the best-quality roads to the public. 
A gas company maintains a free school of cookery. 

But it would be rash and unreasonable to take it 
for granted that because public opinion has come 
over to the side of big business, it will always remain 
there. Only recently. Prof. W. Z. Ripley of Har- 
vard University, one of the foremost national 
authorities on business organization and practice, 
exposed certain aspects of big business which tended 
to undermine public confidence in large corporations. 
He pointed out that the stockholders’ supposed vot- 
ing power is often illusory j that annual financial 
statements are sometimes so brief and summary that 
to the man in the street they are downright mislead- 
ingj that the extension of the system of non-voting 
shares often places the effective control of corpora- 
tions and their finances in the hands of a small clique 
of stockholders j and that some corporations refuse 
to give out sufficient information to permit the public 
to know the true condition of the concern. 

Furthermore, no matter how favorably disposed 
the public may be toward big business in general, the 
utilities are always fair game for public discontent 


Business and the Public 

and need to maintain good will with the greatest care 
and watchfulness. These and other corporations of 
a semi-public character will always have to face a 
demand for government or municipal ownership if 
such attacks as those of Professor Ripley are con- 
tinued and are, in the public’s opinion, justified, un- 
less conditions are changed and care is taken to main- 
tain the contact with the public at all points of their 
corporate existence. 

The public relations counsel should anticipate such 
trends of public opinion and advise on how to avert 
them, either by convincing the public that its fears 
or prejudices are unjustified, or in certain cases by 
modifying the action of the client to the extent nec- 
essary to remove the cause of complaint. In such a 
case public opinion might be surveyed and the points 
of irreducible opposition discovered. The aspects of 
the situation which are susceptible of logical ex- 
planation} to what extent the criticism or prejudice 
is a habitual emotional reaction and what factors are 
dominated by accepted cliches, might be disclosed. 
In each instance he would advise some action or 
modification of policy calculated to make the read- 

While government ownership is in most instances 
only varyingly a remote possibility, public ownership 
of big business through the increasing popular in- 
vestment in stocks and bonds, is becoming more and 
more a fact. The importance of public relations 



from this standpoint is to be judged by the fact that 
practically all prosperous corporations expect at some 
time to enlarge operations, and will need to float new 
stock or bond issues. The success of such issues de- 
pends upon the general record of the concern in the 
business world, and also upon the good will which it 
has been able to create in the general public. When 
the Victor Talking Machine Company was recently 
offered to the public, millions of dollars’ worth of 
stock were sold overnight. On the other hand, there 
are certain companies which, although they are fi- 
nancially sound and commercially prosperous, would 
be unable to float a large stock issue, because public 
opinion is not conscious of them, or has some unana- 
lyzed prejudice against them. 

To such an extent is the successful floating of 
stocks and bonds dependent upon the public favor 
that the success of a new merger may stand or fall 
upon the public acceptance which is created for it. 
A merger may bring into existence huge new re- 
sources, and these resources, perhaps amounting to 
millions of dollars in a single operation, can often 
fairly be said to have been created by the expert 
manipulation of public opinion. It must be repeated 
that I am not speaking of artificial value given to a 
stock by dishonest propaganda or stock manipulation, 
but of the real economic values which are created 
when genuine public acceptance is gained for an in- 
dustrial enterprise and becomes a real partner in it. 


Business and ^the Public 

The growth of big business is so rapid that in some- 
lines ownership is more international than national. 
It is necessary to reach ever larger groups of people 
if modern industry and commerce are to be financed. 
Americans have purchased billions of dollars of for- 
eign industrial securities since the war, and Euro- 
peans own, it is estimated, between one and two 
billion dollars’ worth of ours. In each case public 
acceptance must be obtained for the issue and the en- 
terprise behind it. 

Public loans, state or municipal, to foreign coun- 
tries depend upon the good will which those coun- 
tries have been able to create for themselves here. 
An attempted issue by an east European country is 
now faring badly largely because of unfavorable 
public reaction to the behavior of members of its 
ruling family. But other countries have no difficulty 
in placing any issue because the public is already con- 
vinced of the prosperity of these nations and the 
stability of their governments. 

The new technique of public relations counsel is 
serving a very useful purpose in business by acting as 
a complement to legitimate advertisers and adver- 
tising in helping to break down unfair competitive 
exaggerated and overemphatic advertising by reach- 
ing the public with the truth through other channels 
than advertising. Where two competitors in a field 
are fighting each other with this type of advertising, 
they are undermining that particular industry to a 



point where the public may lose confidence in the 
whole industry. The only way to combat such 
unethical methods, is for ethical members of the in- 
dustry to use the weapon of propaganda in order to 
bring out the basic truths of the situation. 

Take the case of tooth paste, for instance. Here 
is a highly competitive field in which the preponder- 
ance of public acceptance of one product over another 
can very legitimately rest in inherent values. How- 
ever, what has happened in this field.? 

One or two of the large manufacturers have as- 
serted advantages for their tooth pastes which no 
single tooth paste discovered up to the present time 
can possibly have. The competing manufacturer is 
put in the position either of overemphasizing an al- 
ready exaggerated emphasis or of letting the over- 
emphasis of his competitor take away his markets. 
He turns to the weapon of propaganda which can 
effectively, through various channels of approach to 
the public — the dental clinics, the schools, the 
women’s clubs, the medical colleges, the dental press 
and even the daily press — ^bring to the public the 
truth of what a tooth paste can do. This will, of 
course, have its effect in making the honestly adver- 
tised tooth paste get to its^real public. 

Propaganda is potent in meeting unethical or un- 
fair advertising. Effective advertising has become 
more costly than ever before. Years ago, when the 
country was smaller and there was no tremendous 


Business and the Public 

advertising machinery, it was comparatively easy to 
get country-wide recognition for a product. A corps 
of traveling salesmen might persuade the retailers, 
with a few cigars and a repertory of funny stories, 
to display and recommend their article on a nation- 
wide scale. To-day, a small industry is swamped 
unless it can find appropriate and relatively inex- 
pensive means of making known the special virtues 
of its product, while larger industries have sought 
to overcome the difficulty by cooperative advertising, 
in which associations of industries compete with other 
associations. • 

Mass advertising has produced new kinds of com- 
petition. Competition between rival products in the 
same line is, of course, as old as economic life itself. 
In recent years much has been said of the new com- 
petition, we have discussed it in a previous chapter, 
between one group of products and another. Stone 
competes against wood for building; linoleum against 
carpets; oranges against apples; tin against asbestos 
for roofing. 

This type of competition has been humorously 
illustrated by Mr. O. H. Cheney, Vice-President of 
the American Exchange and Irving Trust Company 
of New York, in a speech before the Chicago Busi- 
ness Secretaries Forum. 

“Do you represent the millinery trades?” said Mr. 
Cheney. “The man at your side may serve the fur 
industry, and by promoting the style of big fur col- 

8 1 » 


lars on women’s coats he is ruining the hat business 
by forcing women to wear small and inexpensive 
hats. You may be interested in the ankles of the 
fair sex — I mean, you may represent the silk hosiery 
industry. You have two brave rivals who are ready 
to fight to the death — to spend millions in the fight 
— for the glory of those ankles — the leather indus- 
try, which has suffered from the low-shoe vogue, 
and the fabrics manufacturers, who yearn for the 
good old days when skirts were skirts. 

“If you represent the plumbing and heating busi- 
ness, you are the mortal enemy of the textile indus- 
try, because warmer homes mean lighter clothes. If 
you represent the printers, how can you shake hands 
with the radio equipment man? ... 

“These are really only obvious forms of what I 
have called the new competition. The old competi- 
tion was that between the members of each trade 
organization. One phase of the new competition is 
that between the trade associations themselves — ^be- 
tween you gentlemen who represent those industries. 
Inter-commodity competition is the new competition 
between products used alternatively for the same 
purpose. Inter-industrial competition is the new 
competition between apparently unrelated industries 
which affect each other or between such industries 
as compete for the consumer’s dollar — ^and that 
means practically all industries. . . . 

“Inter-commodity competition is, of course, the 

Business and the Public 

most spectacular of all. It is the one which seems 
most of all to have caught the business imagination 
of the country. More and more business men are 
beginning to appreciate what inter-commodity com- 
petition means to them. More and more they are 
calling upon their trade associations to help them — 
because inter-commodity competition cannot be 
fought single-handed. 

“Take the great war on the dining-room table, for 
instance. Three times a day practically every dining- 
room table in the country is the scene of a fierce 
battle in the new competition. Shall we have prunes 
for breakfast.? No, cry the embattled orange-grow- 
ers and the massed legions of pineapple canners. 
Shall we eat sauerkraut? Why not eat green olives? 
is the answer of the Spaniards. Eat macaroni as a 
change from potatoes, says one advertiser — and will 
the potato growers take this challenge lying down? 

“The doctors and dietitians tell us that a normal 
hard-working man needs only about two or three 
thousand calories of food a day. A banker, I sup- 
pose, needs a little less. But what am I to do? The 
fruit growers, the wheat raisers, the meat packers, 
the milk producers, the fishermen — all want me to 
eat more of their products — ^and are spending mil- 
lions of dollars a year to convince me. Am I to eat 
to the point of exhaustion, or am I to obey the doctor 
and let the farmer and the food packer and the 
retailer go broke! Am I to balance my diet in pro- 



portion to the advertising appropriations of the 
various producers? Or am I to balance my diet 
scientifically and let those who overproduce go 
bankrupt? The new competition is probably keenest 
in the food industries because there we have a very 
real limitation on what we can consume — ^in spite of 
higher incomes and higher living standards, we can- 
not eat more than we can eat.” 

I believe that competition in the future will not 
be only an advertising competition between individual 
products or between big associations, but that it will 
in addition be a competition of propaganda. The 
business man and advertising man is realizing that 
he must not discard entirely the methods of Barnum 
in reaching the public. An example in the annals of 
George Harrison Phelps, of the successful utilization 
of this type of appeal was the nation-wide hook-up 
which announced the launching of the Dodge Victory 
Six car. 

Millions of people, it is estimated, listened in to 
this program broadcast over 47 stations. The ex- 
pense was more than $60,000. The arrangements 
involved an additional telephonic hook-up of 20,000 
miles of wire, and included transmission from Los 
Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and New 
York. A 1 Jolson did his bit from New Orleans, 
Will Rogers from Beverly Hills, Fred and Dorothy 
Stone from Chicago, and Paul Whiteman from New 
York, at an aggregate artists’ fee of $25,000. And 


Business and the Public 

there was included a four-minute address by the 
president of Dodge Brothers announcing the new 
car, which gave him access in four minutes to an es- 
timated audience of thirty million Americans, the 
largest number, unquestionably, ever to concentrate 
their attention on a given commercial product at a 
given moment. It was a sugar-coated sales message. 

Modern sales technicians will object: “What you 
say of this method of appeal is true. But it increases 
the cost of getting the manufacturer’s message across. 
The modern tendency has been to reduce this cost 
(for example, the elimination of premiums) and con- 
centrate on getting full efficiency from the advertis- 
ing expenditure. If you hire a Galli-Curci to sing 
for bacon you increase the cost of the bacon by the 
amount of her very large fee. Her voice adds noth- 
ing to the product but it adds to its cost.” 

Undoubtedly. But all modes of sales appeal re- 
quire the spending of money to make the appeal at- 
tractive. The advertiser in print adds to the cost of 
his message by the use of pictures or by the cost of 
getting distinguished endorsements. 

There is another kind of difficulty, created in the 
process of big business getting bigger, which calls for 
new modes of establishing contact with the public. 
Quantity production oflFers a standardized product 
the cost of which tends to diminish with the quantity 
sold. If low price is the only basis of competition 
with rival products, similarly produced, there ensues 



a cut-throat competition which can end only by taking 
all the profit and incentive out of the Industry. 

The logical way out of this dilemma is for the 
manufacturer to develop some sales appeal other 
than mere cheapness, to give the product, in the 
public mind, some other attraction, some idea that 
will modify the product slightly, some element of 
originality that will distinguish it from products in 
the same line. Thus, a manufacturer of typewriters 
paints his machines in cheerful hues. These special 
types of appeal can be popularized by the manipula- 
tion of the principles familiar to the propagandist — 
the principles of gregariousness, obedience to author- 
ity, emulation, and the like. A minor element can 
be made to assume economic^ importance by being 
established in the public mind as a matter of style. 
Mass production can be split up. Big business will 
still leave room for small business. Next to a huge 
department store there may be located a tiny spe- 
cialty shop which makes a very good living. 

The problem of bringing large hats back into 
fashion was undertaken by a propagandist. The mil- 
linery industry two years ago was menaced by the 
prevalence of the simple felt hat which was crowd- 
ing out the manufacture of all other kinds of hats and 
hat ornaments. It was found that hats could roughly 
be classified in six types. It was found too that four 
groups might help to change hat fashions: the society 
leader, the style expert, the fashion editor and writer, 


Business and the Public 

the artist who might give artistic approval to the 
styles, and beautiful mannequins. The problem, 
then, was to bring these groups together before an 
audience of hat buyers. 

A committee of prominent ai*tists was organized 
to choose the most beautiful girls in New York to 
wear, in a series of tableaux, the most beautiful hats 
in the style classifications, at a fashion fete at a lead- 
ing hotel. 

A committee was formed of distinguished Ameri- 
can women who, on the basis of their interest in the 
development of an American industry, were willing 
to add the authority of their names to the idea. A 
style committee was formed of editors of fashion 
magazines and other prominent fashion authorities 
who were willing to support the idea. The girls in 
their lovely hats and costumes paraded oh the run- 
ning-board before an audience of the entire trade. 

The news of the event affected the buying habits 
not only of the onlookers, but also of the women 
throughout the country. The story of the event was 
flashed to the consumer by her newspaper as well as 
by the advertisements of her favorite store. Broad- 
sides went to the millinery buyer from the manu- 
facturer. One manufacturer stated that whereas be- 
fore the show he had not sold any large trimmed hats, 
after it he had sold thousands. 

Often the public relations counsel is called in to 
handle an emergency situation. A false rumor, for 



instance, may occasion an enormous loss in prestige 
and money if not handled promptly and effectively. 

An incident such as the one described in the New 
York American of Friday, May 2i, 1926, shows 
what the lack of proper technical handling of public 
relations might result in. 


Hudson Motor Company stock fluctuated 
widely around noon yesterday and losses esti- 
mated at $500,000 to $1,000,000 were suf- 
fered as a result of the widespread flotation of 
false news regarding dividend action. 

The directors met in Detroit at 12:30, New 
York time, to act on a dividend. Almost im- 
mediately a false report that only the regular 
dividend had been declared was circulated. 

At 12:46 the Dow, Jones & Co. ticker service 
received the report from the Stock Exchange 
firm and its publication resulted in further drop 
in the stock. 

Shortly after i o’clock the ticker services I'e- 
ceived official ne’ivs that the dividend had been 
increased and a 20 per cent stock distribution 
authorized. They rushed the correct news out 
on their tickers and Hudson stock immediately 
jumped more than 6 points. 


Business and the Public 

A dipping from the Journal of Commerce of April 
4, 1925, is reproduced here as an interesting ex- 
ample of a method to counteract a false rumor: 


Bartlett Arfcell Signally Honored by Com- 
munities of Mohawk Valley 
{Special to T he Journal of Commerce') 

Canajoharie, N. Y., April 3. — To-day was 
‘Beech-Nut Day’ in this townj in fact, for the 
whole Mohawk Valley. Business men and prac- 
tically the whole community of this region 
joined in a personal testimonial to Bartlett 
Arkell of New York City, president of the 
Beech-Nut Packing Company of this city, in 
honor of his firm refusal to consider selling his 
company to other financial interests to move 

When Mr. Arkell publicly denied recent 
rumors that he was to sell his company to the 
Postum Cereal Company for $17,000,000, 
which would have resulted in taking the indus- 
try from its birthplace, he did so in terms con- 
spicuously loyal to his boyhood home, which he 
has built up into a prosperous industrial com- 
munity through thirty years’ management of his 
Beech-Nut Company, 

He absolutely controls the business and flatly 


stated that he would never sell it during his life- 
time ‘to any one at any price,’ since it would be 
disloyal to his friends and fellow workers. And 
the whole Mohawk Valley spontaneously de- 
cided that such spirit deserved public recogni- 
tion. Hence, to-day’s festivities. 

More than 3,000 people participated, headed 
by a committee comprising W. J. Roser, chair- 
man 5 B. F. Spraker, H. V. Bush, B. F. Diefen- 
dorf and J. H. Cook. They were backed by the 
Canajoharie and the Mohawk Valley Chambers 
of Business Men’s Associations. 

Of course, every one realized after this that there 
was no truth in the rumor that the Beech-Nut Com- 
pany was in the market. A denial would not have 
carried as much conviction. 

Amusement, too, is a business- — one of the largest 
in America. It was the amusement business — first 
the circus and the medicine show, then the theater — 
which taught the rudiments of advertising to indus- 
try and commerce. The latter adopted the ballyhoo 
of the show business. But under the stress of prac- 
tical experience it adapted and refined these crude 
advertising methods to the precise ends it sought to 
obtain. The theater has, in its turn, learned from 
business, and has refined its publicity methods to 
the point where the old stentorian methods are in 
the discard. 


Business and the Public 

The modern publicity director of a theater syndi- 
cate or a motion picture trust is a business man, re- 
sponsible for the security of tens or hundreds of mil- 
lions of dollars of invested capital. He cannot afford 
to be a stunt artist or a free-lance adventurer in pub- 
licity. He must know his public accurately and 
modify its thoughts and actions by means of the 
methods which the amusement world has learned 
from its old pupil, big business. As public knowledge 
increases and public taste improves, business must be 
ready to meet them halfway. 

Modern business must have its finger continuously 
on the public pulse. It must understand the changes 
in the public mind and be prepared to interpret itself 
fairly and eloquently to changing opinion. 



The great political problem in our modern democ- 
racy is how to induce our leaders to lead. The 
dogma that the voice o£ the people is the voice of 
God tends to make elected persons the will-less serv- 
ants of their constituents. This is undoubtedly part 
cause of the political sterility of which certain Amer- 
ican critics constantly complain. 

No serious sociologist any longer believes that the 
voice of the people expresses any divine or specially 
wise and lofty idea. The voice of the people ex- 
presses the mind of the people, and that mind is 
made up for it by the group leaders in whom it be- 
lieves and by those persons who understand the 
manipulation of public opinion. It is composed of 
inherited prejudices and symbols and cliches and 
verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders. 

Fortunately, the sincere and gifted politician is 
able, by the instrument of propaganda, to mold and 
form the will of the people. 

Disraeli cynically expressed the dilemma, when 
he said: “I must follow the people. Am I not their 
leader?” He might have added: “I must lead the 
people. Am I not their servant?” 


Propaganda and Political Leadership 

Unfortunately, the methods of our contemporary 
politicians, in dealing with the public, are as archaic 
and ineffective as the advertising methods of busi- 
ness in 1900 would be to-day. While politics was 
the first important department of American life to 
use propaganda on a large scale, it has been the 
slowest in modifying its propaganda methods to meet 
the changed conditions of the public mind. American 
business first learned from politics the methods of 
appealing to the broad public. But it continually im- 
proved those methods in the course of its competi- 
tive struggle, while politics clung to the old formulas. 

The political apathy of the average voter, of 
which we hear so much, is undoubtedly due to the 
fact that the politician does not know how to meet 
the conditions of the public mind. He cannot drama- 
tize himself and his platform in terms which have 
real meaning to the public. Acting on the fallacy 
that the leader must slavishly follow, he deprives his 
campaign of all dramatic interest. An automaton 
cannot arouse the public interest. A leader, a fighter, 
a dictator, can. But, given our present political con- 
ditions under which every office seeker must cater to 
the vote of the masses, the only means by which the 
born leader can lead is the expert use of propa- 

Whether in the problem of getting elected to 
office or in the problem of interpreting and popular- 
izing new issues, or in the problem of making the day- 



to-day administration of public aflFairs a vital part of 
the community life, the use of propaganda, carefully 
adjusted to the mentality of the masses, is an essen- 
tial adjunct of political life. 

The successful business man to-day apes the poli- 
tician. He has adopted the glitter and the ballyhoo 
of the campaign. He has set up all the side shows. 
He has annual dinners that are a compendium of 
speeches, flags, bombast, stateliness, pseudo-democ- 
racy slightly tinged with paternalism. On occasion 
he doles out honors to employees, much as the re- 
public of classic times rewarded its worthy citizens. 

But these are merely the side shows, the drums, 
of big business, by which it builds up an image of 
public service, and of honorary service. This is but 
one of the methods by which business stimulates 
loyal enthusiasms on the part of directors, the work- 
ers, the stockholders and the consumer public. It is 
one of the methods by which big business performs 
its function of making and selling products to the 
public. The real work and campaign of business con- 
sists of intensive study of the public, the manufac- 
ture of products based on this study, and exhaustive 
use of every means of reaching the public. 

Political campaigns to-day are all side shows, all 
honors, all bombast, glitter, and speeches. These are 
for the most part unrelated to the main business of 
studying the public scientifically, of supplying the 
public with party, andidate, platform, and perform- 


Propaganda and Political Leadership 

ance, and selling the public these ideas and products. 

Politics was the first big business in America. 
Therefore there is a good deal of irony in the fact 
that business has learned everything that politics has 
had to teach, but that politics has failed to learn very 
much from business methods of mass distribution of 
ideas and products. 

Emily Newell Blair, has recounted in the Inde- 
pendent a typical instance of the waste of effort and 
money in a political campaign, a week’s speaking tour 
in which she herself took part. She estimates that on 
a five-day trip covering nearly a thousand miles she 
and the United States Senator with whom she was 
making political speeches addressed no more than 
1,105 persons whose votes might conceivably have 
been changed as a result of their efforts. The cost 
of this appeal to these voters she estimates (calculat- 
ing the value of the time spent on a very moderate 
basis) as $15.27 for each vote which might have been 
changed as a result of the campaign. 

This, she says, was a “drive for votes, just as an 
Ivory Soap advertising campaign is a drive for 
sales.” But, she asks, “what would a company execu- 
tive say to a sales manager who sent a high-priced 
speaker to describe his product to less than 1,200 
people at a cost of $15.27 for each possible buyer?” 
She finds it “amazing that the very men who make 
their millions out of cleverly devised drives for soap 
and bonds and cars will turn around and give large 



contributions to be expended for vote-getting in an 
utterly inefficient and antiquated fashion.” 

It is, indeed, incomprehensible that politicians do 
not make use of the elaborate business methods that 
industry has built up. Because a politician knows 
political strategy, can develop campaign issues, can 
devise strong planks for platforms and envisage 
broad policies, it does not follow that he can be 
given the responsibility of selling ideas to a public as 
large as that of the United States. 

The politician understands the public. He knows 
what the public wants and what the public will accept. 
But the politician is not necessarily a general sales 
manager, a public relations counsel, or a man who 
knows how to secure mass distribution of ideas. 

Obviously, an occasional political leader may be 
capable of combining every feature of leadership, just 
as in business there are certain brilliant industrial 
leaders who are financiers, factory directors, engineers, 
sales managers and public relations coimsel all rolled 
into one. 

Big business is conducted on the principle that it 
must prepare its policies carefully, and that in sell- 
ing an idea to the large buying public of America, it 
must proceed according to broad plans. The politi- 
cal strategist must do likewise. The entire campaign 
should be worked out according to broad basic 
plans. Platforms, planks, pledges, budgets, activities, 
personalities, must be as carefully studied, appor- 

Propaganda and Political Leadership 

*oned and used as they are when big business de- 
sires to get what it wants from the public. 

The first step in a political campaign is to deter^ 
mine on the objectives, and to express them exceed-' 
ingly well in the current form — ^that is, as a platform. 
In devising the platform the leader should be sure 
that it is an honest platform. Campaign pledges and 
promises should not be lightly considered by the pub- 
lic, and they ought to carry something of the guaran- 
tee principle and money-back policy that an honor- 
able business institution carries with the sale of its 
goods. The public has lost faith in campaign pro- 
motion work. It does not say that politicians are 
dishonorable, but it does say that campaign pledges 
are written on the sand. Here then is one fact of 
public opinion of which the party that wishes to be 
successful might well take cognizance. 

To aid in the preparation of the platform there 
should be made as nearly scientific an analysis as pos- 
sible of the public and of the needs of the public. A 
survey of public desires and demands would come to 
thb aid of the political strategist whose business it is to 
make a proposed plan of the activities of the parties 
and its elected ofiBcials during the coming terms of 

A big business that wants to sell a product to the 
public surveys and analyzes its market before it takes 
a single step either to make or to sell the product. 
If one section of the community is absolutely sold to 

liliiii ' ^ ' v ':: - 


the idea of this product, no money is wasted in re- 
selling it to it. If, on the other hand, another sec- 
tion of the public is irrevocably committed to another 
product, no money is wasted on a lost cause. Very 
often the analysis is the cause of basic changes and 
improvements in the product itself, as well as an index 
of how it is to be presented. So carefully is this 
analysis of markets and sales made that when a com- 
pany makes out its sales budget for the year, it sub- 
divides the circulations of the various magazines and 
newspapers it uses in advertising and calculates with 
a fair degree of accuracy how many times a section 
of that population is subjected to the appeal of the 
company. It knows approximately to what extent a 
national campaign duplicates and repeats the em- 
phasis of a local campaign of selling. 

As in the business field, the expenses of the politi- 
cal campaign should be budgeted. A large business 
to-day knows exactly how much money it is going 
to spend on propaganda during the next year or years. 
It knows that a certain percentage of its gross re- 
ceipts will be given over to advertising — newspaper, 
magazine, outdoor and poster } a certain percentage 
to circularization and sales promotion — such as house 
organs and dealer aidsj and a certain percentage 
must go to the supervising salesmen who travel 
around the country to infuse extra stimulus in the 
local sales campaign. 

A political campaign should be similarly budg- 


Propaganda and Political Leadership 

eted. The first question which should be decided 
is the amount of money that should be raised for the 
campaign. This decision can be reached by a care- 
ful analysis of campaign costs. There is enough 
precedent in business procedure to enable experts to 
work this out accurately. Then the second question 
of importance is the manner in which money should 
be raised. 

It is obvious that politics would gain much in pres- 
tige if the money-raising campaign were conducted 
candidly and publicly, like the campaigns for the war 
funds. Charity drives might be made excellent 
models for political funds drives. The elimina- 
tion of the little black bag element in politics would 
raise the entire prestige of politics in America, and 
the public interest would be infinitely greater if the 
actual participation occurred earlier and more con- 
structively in the campaign. 

Again, as in the business field, there should be a 
clear decision as to how the money is to be spent. 
This should be done according to the most careful 
and exact budgeting, wherein every step in the cam- 
paign is given its proportionate importance, and the 
funds allotted accordingly. Advertising in news- 
papers and periodicals, posters and street banners, the 
exploitation of personalities in motion pictures, in 
speeches and lectures and meetings, spectacular events 
and all forms of propaganda should be considered 
proportionately according to the budget, and should 



always be coordinated with the whole plan. Certain 
expenditures may be warranted if they represent a 
small proportion of the budget and may be totally 
unwarranted if they make up a large proportion of 
the budget. 

In the same way the emotions by which the public 
is appealed to may be made part of the broad plan 
of the campaign. Unrelated emotions become maud- 
lin and sentimental too easily, are often costly, and 
too often waste effort because the idea is not part 
of the conscious and coherent whole. 

Big business has realized that it must use as many 
of the basic emotions as possible. The politician, 
however, has used the emotions aroused by words 
almost exclusively. 

To appeal to the emotions of the public in a politi- 
cal campaign is sound — ^in fact it is an indispensable 
part of the campaign. But the emotional content 
must — 

(a) coincide in every way vdth the broad basic 
plans of the campaign and all its minor details} 

(b) be adapted to the many groups of the public 
at which it is to be aimed} and 

(c) conform to the media of the distribution of 

The emotions of oratory have been worn down 
through long years of overuse. Parades, mass meet- 
ings, and the like are successful when the public has a 
frenzied emotional interest in the event. The can- 

Propaganda and Political Leadership 

didate who takes babies on his lap, and has his photo- 
graph taken, is doing a wise thing emotionally, if this 
act epitomizes a definite plank in his platform. Kiss- 
ing babies, if it is worth anything, must be used as a 
symbol for a baby policy and it must be synchronized 
with a plank in the platform. But the haphazard 
staging of emotional events without regard to their 
value as part of the whole campaign, is a waste of 
effort, just as it would be a waste of effort for the 
manufacturer of hockey skates to advertise a picture 
of a church surrounded by spring foliage. It is true 
that the church appeals to our religious impulses and 
that everybody loves the spring, but these impulses 
do not help to sell the idea that hockey skates are 
amusing, helpful, or increase the general enjoyment 
of life for the buyer. 

Present-day politics places emphasis on personality. 
An entire party, a platform, an international policy 
is sold to the public, or is not sold, on the basis of the 
intangible element of personality. A charming can- 
didate is the alchemist’s secret that can transmute a 
prosaic platform into the gold of votes. Helpful as 
is a candidate who for some reason has caught the 
imagination of the country, the party and its aims 
are certainly more important than the personality of 
the candidate. Not personality, but the ability of the 
candidate to carry out the party’s program ade- 
quately, and the program itself should be empha- 
sized in a sound campaign plan. Even Henry Ford, 


the most picturesque personality in business in 
America to-day, has become known through his 
product, and not his product through him. 

It is essential for the campaign manager to educate 
the emotions in terms of groups. The public is not 
made up merely of Democrats and Republicans. 
People to-day are largely uninterested in politics and 
their interest in the issues of the campaign must be 
secured by coordinating it with their personal in- 
terests. The public is made up of interlocking groups 
— economic, social, religious, educational, cultural, 
racial, collegiate, local, sports, and hundreds of 

When President Coolidge invited actors for break- 
fast, he did so because he realized not only that actors 
were a group, but that audiences, the large group of 
people who like amusements, who like people who 
amuse them, and who like people who can be amused, 
ought to be aligned with him. 

The Shepard-Towner Maternity Bill was passed 
because the people who fought to secure its passage 
realized that mothers made up a group, that educa- 
tors made up a group, that physicians made up a 
group, that all these groups in turn influence other 
groups, and that taken all together these groups were 
sufficiently strong and numerous to impress Congress 
with the fact that the people at large wanted this bill 
to be made part of the national law. 

The political campaign having defined its broad 

Propaganda and Political Leadership 

objects and its basic plans, having defined the group 
appeal which it must use, must carefully allocate to 
each of the media at hand the work which it can 
do with maximum efficiency. 

The media through which a political campaign may 
be brought home to the public are numerous and 
fairly well defined. Events and activities must be 
created in order to put ideas into circulation, in these 
channels, which are as varied as the means of human 
communication. Every object which presents pic- 
tures or words that the public can see, everything that 
presents intelligible sounds, can be utilized in one 
way or another. 

At present, the political campaigner uses for the 
greatest part the radio, the press, the banquet hall, 
the mass meeting, the lecture platform, and the 
stump generally as a means for furthering his ideas. 
But this is only a small part of what may be done. 
Actually there are infinitely more varied events that 
can be created to dramatize the campaign, and to make 
people talk of it. Exhibitions, contests, institutes of 
politics, the cooperation of educational institutions, 
the dramatic cooperation of groups which hith- 
erto have not been drawn into active politics, and 
many others may be made the vehicle for the presen- 
tation of ideas to the public. 

But whatever is done must be synchronized accu- 
rately with all other forms of appeal to the public. 
News reaches the public through the printed word — 



books, magazines, letters, posters, circulars and ban- 
ners, newspapers; through pictures — photographs and 
motion pictures; through the ear — ^lectures, speeches, 
band music, radio, campaign songs. All these must 
be employed by the political party if it is to succeed. 
One method of appeal is merely one method of ap- 
peal and in this age wherein a thousand movements 
and ideas are competing for public attention, one dare 
not put all one’s eggs into one basket. 

It is understood that the methods of propaganda 
can be effective only with the voter who makes up 
his own mind on the basis of his group prejudices and 
desires. Where specific allegiances and loyalties exist, 
as in the case of boss leadership, these loyalties will 
operate to nullify the free will of the voter. In this 
dose relation between the boss and his constituents 
lies, of course, the strength of his position in politics. 

It is not necessary for the politician to be the slave 
of the public’s group prejudices, if he can learn how 
to mold the mind of the voters in conformity with his 
own ideas of public welfare and public service. The 
important thing for the statesman of our age is not 
so much to know how to please the public, but to 
know how to sway the public. In theory, this educa- 
tion might be done by means of learned pamphlets 
explaining the intricacies of public questions. In 
actual fact, it can be. done only by meeting the con- 
ditions of the public mind, by creating circumstances 
which set up trains of thought, by dramatizing per- 


Propaganda and Political Leadership 

sonalities, by establishing contact with the group 
leaders who control the opinions of their publics. 

But campaigning is only an incident in political 
life. The process of government is continuous. And 
the expert use of propaganda is more useful and fun- 
damental, although less striking, as an aid to demo- 
cratic administration, than as an aid to vote getting. 

Good government can be sold to a community just 
as any other commodity can be sold. I often wonder 
whether the politicians of the future, who are re- 
sponsible for maintaining the prestige and effective- 
ness of their party, will not endeavor to train poli- 
ticians who are at the same time propagandists. I 
talked recently with George Olvany. He said that a 
certain number of Princeton men were joining Tam- 
many Hall. If I were in his place I should have 
taken some of my brightest young men and set them 
to work for Broadway theatrical productions or ap- 
prenticed them as assistants to professional propa- 
gandists before recruiting them to the ser'nce of the 

One reason, perhaps, why the politician to-day is 
slow to take up methods which are a commonplace 
in business life is that he has such ready entry to the 
media of communication on which his power depends. 

The newspaper man looks to him for news. And 
by his power of giving or withholding information 
the politician can often effectively censor political 
news. But being dependent, every day of the year 
■ lOS . 


and for year after year, upon certain politicians for 
news, the newspaper reporters are obliged to work in 
harmony with their news sources. 

The political leader must be a creator of circum- 
stances, not only a creature of mechanical processes of 
stereotyping and rubber stamping. 

Let us suppose that he is campaigning on a low- 
tariff platform. He may use the modern mechanism 
of the radio to spread his views, but he will almost 
certainly use the psychological method of approach 
which was old in Andrew Jackson’s day, and which 
business has largely discarded. He will say over the 
radio: “Vote for me and low tariff, because the high 
tariff increases the cost of the things you buy.” He 
may, it is true, have the great advantage of being able 
to speak by radio directly to fifty million listeners, 
But he is making an old-fashioned approach. He is 
arguing with them. He is assaulting, single-handed, 
the resistance of inertia. 

If he were a propagandist, on the other hand, al- 
though he would still use the radio, he would use 
it as one instrument of a well-planned strategy. 
Since he is campaigning on the issue of a low tariff, he 
not merely would tell people that the high tariff in- 
creases the cost of the things they buy, but would 
create circumstances which would make his conten- 
tion dramatic and self-evident. He would perhaps 
stage a low-tariff exhibition simultaneously in twenty 
cities, with exhibits illustrating the additional cost 


Propaganda and Political Leadership 

due to the tariff in force. He would see that these 
exhibitions were ceremoniously inaugurated by prom- 
inent men and women who were interested in a low 
tariff apart from any interest in his personal political 
fortunes. He would have groups, whose interests 
were especially affected by the high cost of living, 
institute an agitation for lower schedules. He would 
dramatize the issue, perhaps by having prominent 
men boycott woolen clothes, and go to important 
functions in cotton suits, until the wool schedule was 
reduced. He might get the opinion of social workers 
as to whether the high cost of wool endangers the 
health of the poor in winter. 

In whatever ways he dramatized the issue, the at- 
tention of the public would be attracted to the ques- 
tion before he addressed them personally. Then, 
when he spoke to his millions of listeners on the 
radio, he would not be seeking to force an argument 
down the throats of a public thinking of other things 
and annoyed by another demand on its attention} on, 
the contrary, he would be answering the spontaneous 
questions and expressing the emotional demands of 
a public already keyed to a certain pitch of interest 
in the subject. 

The importance of taking the entire world public 
into consideration before planning an important event 
is shown by the wise action of Thomas Masaryk, then 
Provisional President, now President of the Republic 
of Czecho-Slovakia. 



Czecho-Slovakia ofHcially became a free state on 
Monday, October 28, 1918, instead of Sunday, 
October 27, 1918, because Professor Masaryk real- 
ized that the people of the world would receive more 
information and would be more receptive to the an- 
nouncement of the republic’s freedom on a Monday 
morning than on a Sunday, because the press would 
have TJtiore space to devote to it on Monday morning. 

Discussing the matter with me before he made the 
announcement, Professor Masaryk said, “I would 
be making history for the cables if I changed the 
date of Czecho-Slovakia’s birth as a free nation.” 
Cables make history and so the date was changed. 

This incident illustrates the importance of tech- 
nique in the new propaganda. 

It will be objected, of course, that propaganda will 
tend to defeat itself as its mechanism becomes obvi- 
ous to the public. My opinion is that it will not. 
The only propaganda which will ever tend to weaken 
itself as the world becomes more sophisticated and 
intelligent, is propaganda that is untrue or unsocial. 

Again, the objection is raised that propaganda is 
utilized to manufacture our leading political person- 
alities, It is asked whether, in fact, the leader makes 
propaganda, or whether propaganda makes the 
leader. There is a widespread impression that a 
good press agent can puff up a nobody into a great 

The answer is the same as that made to the old 

Propaganda and Political Leadership 

query as to whether the newspaper makes public 
opinion or whether public opinion makes the news- 
paper. There has to be fertile ground for the leader 
and the idea to fall on. But the leader also has to 
have some vital seed to sow. To use another figure, a 
mutual need has to exist before either can become 
positively efFective. Propaganda is of no use to the 
politician unless he has something to say which the 
public, consciously or unconsciously, wants to hear. 

But even supposing that a certain propaganda is 
untrue or dishonest, we cannot on that account re- 
ject the methods of propaganda as such. For propa- 
ganda in some form will always be used where lead- 
ers need to appeal to their constituencies. 

The criticism is often made that propaganda tends 
to make the President of the United States so im- 
portant that he becomes not the President but the 
embodiment of the idea of hero worship, not to say 
deity worship. I quite agree that this is so, but how 
are you going to stop a condition which very accu- 
rately reflects the desires of a certain part of the 
public? The American people rightly senses the 
enormous importance of the executive’s oflice. If the 
public tends to make of the President a heroic symbol 
of that power, that is not the fault of propaganda but 
lies in the very nature of the oflice and its relation to 
the people. 

This condition, despite its somewhat irrational puff- 
ing up of the man to fit the office, is perhaps still 



more sound than a condition in which the man utilizes 
no propaganda, or a propaganda not adapted to its 
proper end. Note the example of the Prince of 
Wales. This young man reaped bales of clippings 
and little additional glory from his American visit, 
merely because he was poorly advised. To the Ameri- 
can public he became a well dressed, charming, sport- 
loving, dancing, perhaps frivolous youth. Nothing 
was done to add dignity and prestige to this impres- 
sion until towards the end of his stay he made a trip 
in the subway of New York. This sole venture into 
democracy and the serious business of living as evi- 
denced in. the daily habits of workers, aroused new 
interest in the Prince. Had he been properly advised 
he would have augmented this somewhat by such 
serious studies of American life as were made by an- 
other prince, Gustave of Sweden. As a result of the 
lack of well directed propaganda, the Prince of Wales 
became in the eyes of the American people, not the 
thing which he constitutionally is, a symbol of the 
unity of the British Empire, but part and parcel of 
sporting Long Island and dancing beauties of the 
ballroom. Great Britain lost an invaluable oppor- 
tunity to increase the good will and understanding 
between the two countries when it failed to under- 
stand the importance of correct public relations coun- 
sel for His Royal Highness. 

The public actions of America’s chief executive are, 
if one chooses to put it that way, stage-managed. 

Propaganda and Political Leadership 

But they are chosen to represent and dramatize the 
man in his function as representative of the people. 
A political practice which has its roots in the tendency 
of the popular leader to follow oftener than he 
leads is the technique of the trial balloon which he 
uses in order to maintain, as he believes, his contact 
with the public. The politician, of course, has his 
ear to the ground. It might be called the clinical ear. 
It touches the ground and hears the disturbances of 
the political universe. 

But he often does not know what the disturbances 
mean, whether they are superficial, or fundamental. 
So he sends up his balloon. He may send out an 
anonymous interview through the press. He then 
waits for reverberations to come from the public — a. 
public which expresses itself in mass meetings, or 
resolutions, or telegrams, or even such obvious mani- 
festations as editorials in the partisan or nonpartisan 
press. On the basis of these repercussions he then 
publicly adopts his original tentative policy, or rejects 
it, or modifies it to conform to the sum of public 
opinion which has reached him. This method is 
modeled on the peace feelers which were used during 
the war to sound out the disposition of the enemy to 
make peace or to test any one of a dozen other popu- 
lar tendencies. It is the method commonly used by 
a politician before committing himself to legislation 
of any kind, and by a government before committing 
itself on foreign or domestic policies. 


It is a method which has little justification. If a 
politician is a real leader he will be able, by the skill- 
ful use of propaganda, to lead the people, instead of 
following the people by means of the clumsy instru- 
ment of trial and error. 

The propagandist’s approach is the exact opposite 
of that of the politician just described. The whole 
basis of successful propaganda is to have an objective 
and then to endeavor to arrive at it through an exact 
knowledge of the public and modifying circum- 
stances to manipulate and sway that public. 

“The function of a statesman,” says George Ber- 
nard Shaw, “is to express the will of the people in the 
way of a scientist.” 

The political leader of to-day should be a leader 
as finely versed in the technique of propaganda as 
in political economy and civics. If he remains merely 
the reflection of the average intelligence of his com- 
munity, he might as well go out of politics. If one 
is dealing with a democracy in which the herd and the 
group follow those whom they recognize as leaders, 
why should not the young men training for leader- 
ship be trained in its technique as well as in its 

“When the interval between the intellectual classes 
and the practical classes is too great,” says the his- 
torian Buckle, “the former will possess no influence, 
the latter will reap no benefits.” 

Propaganda and Political Leadership 

Propaganda bridges this interval in our modern 
complex civilization. 

Only through the wise use of propaganda will our 
government, considered as the continuous administra- 
tive organ of the people, be able to maintain that inti- 
mate relationship with the public which is necessary 
in a democracy. 

As David Lawrence pointed out in a recent speech, 
there is need for an intelligent interpretative bureau 
for our government in Washington. There is, it is 
true, a Division of Current Information in the De- 
partment of State, which at first was headed by a 
trained newspaper man. But later this position began 
to be filled by men from the diplomatic service, men 
who had very little knowledge of the public. While 
some of these diplomats have done very well, Mr. 
Lawrence asserted that in the long run the country 
would be benefited if the functions of this office were 
in the hands of a different type of person. 

There should, I believe, be an Assistant Secretary 
of State who is familiar with the problem of dis- 
pensing information to the press — some one upon 
whom the Secretary of State can call for consulta- 
tion and who has sufficient authority to persuade the 
Secretary of State to make public that which, for in- 
sufficient reason, is suppressed. 

The function of the propagandist is much broader 
in scope than that of a mere dispenser of informa- 
tion to the press. The United States Government 

1 13 


should create a Secretary of Public Relations as 
member of the President’s Cabinet. The function of 
this official should be correctly to interpret America’s 
aims and ideals throughout the world, and to keep 
the citizens of this country in touch with govern- 
mental activities and the reasons which prompt them. 
He would, in short, interpret the people to the gov- 
ernment and the government to the people. 

Such an official would be neither a propagandist nor 
a press agent, in the ordinary understanding of those 
terms. He would be, rather, a trained technician 
who would be helpful in analyzing public thought 
and public trends, in order to keep the government 
informed about the public, and the people informed 
about the government. America’s relations with 
South America and with Europe would be greatly 
improved under such circumstances. Ours must be 
a leadership democracy administered by the intelli- 
gent minority who know how to regiment and guide 
the masses. 

Is this government by propaganda.? Call it, if you 
prefer, government by education. But education, in 
the academic sense of the word, is not sufficient. It 
must be enlightened expert propaganda through the 
creation of circumstances, through the high-spotting 
of significant events, and the dramatization of im- 
portant issues. The statesman of the future will thus 
be enabled to focus the public mind on crucial points 
of policy, and regiment a vast, heterogeneous mass 
of voters to clear understanding and intelligent action 


women’s activities and propaganda 

Women in contemporary America have achieved a 
legal equality with men. This does not mean that 
their activities are identical with those of men. 
Women in the mass still have special interests and 
activities in addition to their economic pursuits and 
vocational interests. 

Women’s most obvious influence is exerted when 
they are organized and armed with the weapon of 
propaganda. So organized and armed they have 
made their influence felt on city councils, state legisla- 
tures, and national congresses, upon executives, upon 
political campaigns and upon public opinion gener- 
ally, both local and national. 

In politics, the American women to-day occupy a 
much more important position, from the standpoint 
of their influence, in their organized groups than 
from the standpoint of the leadership they have ac- 
quired in actual political positions or in actual ofiice 
holding. The professional woman politician has had, 
up to the present, not much influence, nor do, women 
generally regard her as being the most important ele- 
ment in question. Ma Ferguson, after all, was 
simply a woman in the home, a catspaw for a deposed 
husband} Nellie Ross, the former Governor of Wyo- 


ming, is from all accounts hardly a leader of states- 
manship or public opinion. 

If the suffrage campaign did nothing more, it 
showed the possibilities of propaganda to achieve cer- 
tain ends. This propaganda to-day is being utilized 
by women to achieve their programs in Washington 
and in the states. In Washington they are organized 
as the Legislative Committee of Fourteen Women’s 
Organizations, including the League of Women 
Voters, the Young Women’s Christian Association, 
the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Fed- 
eration of Women’s Clubs, etc. These organizations 
map out a legislative program and then use the mod- 
ern technique of propaganda to make this legislative 
program actually pass into the law of the land. Their 
accomplishments in the field are various. They can 
justifiably take the credit for much welfare legisla- 
tion. The eight-hour day for women is theirs. 
Undoubtedly prohibition and its enforcement are 
theirs, if they can be considered an accomplishment. 
So is the Shepard-Towner Bill which stipulates sup- 
port by the central government of maternity welfare 
in the state governments. This bill would not have 
passed had it not been for the political prescience 
and sagacity of women like Mrs. Vanderlip and Mrs. 

The Federal measures endorsed at the first con- 
vention of the National League of Women Voters 
typify social welfare activities of women’s organiza- 


Women*s Activities and Propaganda 

tions. These covered such broad interests as child 
welfare, education, the home and high prices, women 
in gainful occupations, public health and morals, in- 
dependent citizenship for married women, and others. 

To propagandize these principles, the National 
League of Women Voters has published all types 
of literature, such as bulletins, calendars, election in- 
formation, has held a correspondence course on gov- 
ernment and conducted demonstration classes and citi- 
zenship schools. 

Possibly the effectiveness of women’s organizations 
in American politics to-day is due to two things: 
first, the training of a professional class of executive 
secretaries or legislative secretaries during the suf- 
frage campaigns, where every device known to the 
propagandist had to be used to regiment a recalcitrant 
majority; secondly, the routing over into peace- 
time activities of the many prominent women who 
were in the suffrage campaigns and who also de- 
voted themselves to the important drives and mass 
influence movements during the war. Such women 
as Mrs. Frank Vanderlip, Alice Ames Winter, Mrs. 
Henry Moskowitz, Mrs. Florence Kelley, Mrs. John 
Blair, Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont, Doris Stevens, Alice 
Paul come to mind. 

If I have seemed to concentrate on the accomplish- 
ments of women in polities, it is because they afford 
a particularly striking example of intelligent use of 
the new propaganda to secure attention and acceptance 



of minority ideas. It is perhaps curiously appropriate 
that the latest recruits to the political arena should 
recognize and make use of the newest weapons of 
persuasion to offset any lack of experience with what 
is somewhat euphemistically termed practical poli- 
tics, As an example of this new technique: Some 
years ago, the Consumers’ Committee of Women, 
fighting the “American valuation” tariff, rented an 
empty store on Fifty-seventh Street in New York and 
set up an exhibit of merchandise tagging each item 
with the current price and the price it would cost if 
the tariff went through. Hundreds of visitors to 
this shop rallied to the cause of the committee. 

But there are also non-political fields in which 
women can make and have made their influence felt 
for social ends, and in which they have utilized the 
principle of group leadership in attaining the desired 

In the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, 
there are 13,000 clubs. Broadly classified, they in- 
clude civic and city clubs, mothers’ and homemakers’ 
clubs, cultural clubs devoted to art, music or litera- 
ture, business and professional women’s clubs, and 
general women’s clubs, which may embrace either 
civic or community phases, or combine some of the 
other activities listed. 

The woman’s club is generally effective on behalf 
of health education; in furthering appreciation of the 
fine arts; in sponsoring legislation that affects the 


Women s Activities and Propaganda 

welfare of women and children; in playground de- 
velopment and park improvement; in raising stand- 
ards of social or political morality; in homemaking 
and home economics, education and the like. In 
these fields, the woman’s club concerns itself with 
efforts that are not ordinarily covered by existing 
agencies, and often both initiates and helps to fur- 
ther movements for the good of the community. 

A club interested principally in homemaking and 
the practical arts can sponsor a cooking school for 
young brides and others. An example of the keen 
interest of women in this field of education is the 
cooking school recently conducted by the New York 
Herald Tribune, which held its classes in Carnegie 
Hall, seating almost 3,000 persons. For the several 
days of the cooking school, the hall was filled to 
capacity, rivaling the drawing power of a McCor- 
mack or a Paderewski, and refuting most dramat- 
ically the idea that women in large cities are not 
interested in housewifery. 

A movement for the serving of milk in public 
schools, or the establishment of a baby health sta- 
tion at the department of health will be an effort 
close to the heart of a club devoted to the interest of 
mothers and child welfare. 

A music club can broaden its sphere and be of 
service to the community by cooperating with the 
local radio station in arranging better musical pro- 
grams. Fighting bad music can be as militant a cam- 



paign and marshal as varied resources as any politi- 
cal battle. 

An art club can be active in securing loan exhibi- 
tions for its city. It can also arrange travelling ex- 
hibits of the art work of its members or show the art 
work of schools or universities. 

A literary club may step out of its charmed circle 
of lectures and literary lions and take a definite part 
in the educational life of the community. It can 
sponsor, for instance, a competition in the public 
schools for the best essay on the history of the city, 
or on the life of its most famous son. 

Over and above the particular object for which the 
woman’s club may have been constituted, it commonly 
stands ready to initiate or help any movement which 
has for its object a distinct public good in the com- 
munity. More important, it constitutes an organized 
channel through which women can make themselves 
felt as a definite part of public opinion. 

Just as women supplement men in private life, so 
they will supplement men in public life by concen- 
trating their organized efforts on those objects which 
men are likely to ignore. There is a tremendous field 
for women as active protagonists of new ideas and 
new methods of political and social housekeeping. 
When organized and conscious of their power to in- 
fluence their surroundings, women can use their newly 
acquired freedom in a great many ways to mold the 
world into a better place to live in. 




Education is not securing its proper share of pub- 
lic interest. The public school system, materially and 
financially, is being adequately supported. There is 
marked eagerness for a college education, and a 
vague aspiration for culture, expressed in innumer- 
able courses and lectures. The public is not cognizant 
of the real value of education, and does not realize 
that education as a social force is not receiving the 
kind of attention it has the right to expect in a democ- 

It is felt, for example, that education is entitled 
to more space in the newspapersj that well informed 
discussion of education hardly exists j that unless such 
an issue as the Gary School system is created, or out- 
side of an occasional discussion, such as that aroused 
over Harvard’s decision to establish a school of busi- 
ness, education does not attract the active interest of 
the public. 

There are a number of reasons for this condition. 
First of all, there is the fact that the educator has 
been trained to stimulate to thought the individual 
students in his classroom, but has not been trained as 
an educator at large of the public. 



In a democracy an educator should, in addition to 
his academic duties, bear a definite and wholesome 
relation to the general public. This public does not 
come within the immediate scope of his academic du- 
ties. But in a sense he depends upon it for his liv- 
ing, for the moral support, and the general cultural 
tone upon which his work must be based. In the 
field of education, we find what we have found in 
politics and other fields — ^that the evolution of the 
practitioner of the profession has not kept pace with 
the social evolution around him, and is out of gear 
with the instruments for the dissemination of ideas 
which modern society has developed. If this be 
true, then the training of the educators in this re- 
spect should begin in the normal schools, with the 
addition to their curricula of whatever is necessary 
to broaden their viewpoint. The public cannot un- 
derstand unless the teacher understands the relation- 
ship between the general public and the academic 

The normal school should provide for the training 
of the educator to make him realize that his is a two- 
fold job: education as a teacher and education as a 

A second reason for the present remoteness of edu- 
cation from the thoughts and interests of the public 
is to be found in the mental attitude of the pedagogue 
— ^whether primary school teacher or college profes- 
sor — ^toward the world outside the school. This is a 

Propaganda for Education 

difficult psychological problem. The teacher finds 
himself in a world in which the emphasis is put on 
those objective goals and those objective attainments 
which are prized by our American society. He him- 
self is but moderately or poorly paid. Judging him- 
self by the standards in common acceptance, he can- 
not but feel a sense of inferiority because he finds 
himself continually being compared, in the minds of 
his own pupils, with the successful business man and 
the successful leader in the outside world. Thus the 
educator becomes repressed and suppressed in our 
civilization. As things stand, this condition cannot 
be changed from the outside unless the general public 
alters its standards of achievement, which it is not 
likely to do soon. 

Yet it can be changed by the teaching profession 
itself, if it becomes conscious not only of its indi- 
vidualistic relation to the pupil, but also of its social 
relation to the general public. The teaching profes- 
sion, as such, has the right to carry on a very definite 
propaganda with a view to enlightening the public 
and asserting its intimate relation to the society which 
it serves. In addition to conducting a propaganda 
on behalf of its individual members, education must 
also raise the general appreciation of the teaching 
profession. Unless the profession can raise itself by 
its own bootstraps, it will fast lose the power of re- 
cruiting outstanding talent for itself. 

Propaganda cannot change all that is at present un- 



satisfactory in the educational situation. There are 
factors, such as low pay and the lack of adequate 
provision for superannuated teachers, which defi- 
nitely affect the status of the profession. It is pos- 
sible, by means of an intelligent appeal predicated 
upon the actual present composition of the public 
mind, to modify the general attitude toward the 
teaching profession. Such a changed attitude will 
begin by expressing itself in an insistence on the idea 
of more adequate salaries for the profession. 

There are various ways in which academic organi- 
zations in America handle their financial problems. 
One type of college or university depends, for its 
monetary support, upon grants from the state legis- 
latures. Another depends upon private endow- 
ment. There are other types of educational institu- 
tions, such as the sectarian, but the two chief types 
include by far the greater number of our institutions 
of higher learning. 

The state university is supported by grants from 
the people of the state, voted by the state legislature. 
In theory, the degree of support which the university 
receives is dependent upon the degree of acceptance 
accorded it by the voters. The state university pros- 
pers according to the extent to which it can sell itself 
to the people of the state. 

The state university is therefore in an unfortunate 
position unless its president happens to be a man of 
outstanding merit as a propagandist and a dramatizer 


Propaganda for Education 

of educational issues. Yet if this is the case — ^if the 
university shapes its whole policy toward gaining 
the support of the state legislature — ^its educational 
function may sufFer. It may be tempted to base its 
whole appeal to the public on its public service, real 
or supposed, and permit the education of its indi- 
vidual students to take care of itself. It may attempt 
to educate the people of the state at the expense of its 
own pupils. This may generate a number of evils, to 
the extent of making the university a political instru- 
ment, a mere tool of the political group in power. 
If the president dominates both the public and the 
professional politician, this may lead to a situation 
in which the personality of the president outweighs 
the true function of the institution. 

The endowed college or university has a problem 
quite as perplexing. The endowed college is de- 
pendent upon the support, usually, of key men in in- 
dustry whose social and economic objectives are 
concrete and limited, and therefore often at variance 
with the pursuit of abstract knowledge. The success- 
ful business man criticizes the great universities for 
being too academic, but seldom for being too prac- 
tical. One might imagine that the key men who 
support our universities would like them to special- 
ize in schools of applied science, of practical sales- 
manship or of industrial efficiency. And it may well 
be, in many instances, that the demands which the 
potential endowers of our universities make upon 



these institutions are flatly in contradiction to the in- 
terests of scholarship and general culture. 

We have, therefore, the anomalous situation of the 
college seeking to carry on a propaganda in favor of 
scholarship among people who are quite out of sym- 
pathy with the aims to which they are asked to sub- 
saibe their money. Men who, by the commonly 
accepted standards, are failures or very moderate suc- 
cesses in our American world (the pedagogues) seek 
to convince the outstanding successes (the business 
men) that they should give their money to ideals 
which they do not pursue. Men who, through a 
sense of inferiority, despise money, seek to win the 
good will of men who love money. 

It seems possible that the future status of the en- 
dowed college will depend upon a balancing of these 
forces, both the academic and the endowed elements 
obtaining in effect due consideration. 

The college must win public support. If the po- 
tential donor is apathetic, enthusiastic public approval 
must be obtained to convince him. If he seeks 
unduly to influence the educational policy of the in- 
stitution, public opinion must support the college in 
the continuance of its proper functions. If either 
factor dominates unduly, we are likely to find a 
demagoguery or a snobbishness aiming to please one 
group or the other. 

There is still another potential solution of the prob- 
lem. It is posable that through an educational prop- 


Propaganda for Education 

aganda aiming to develop greater social consciousness 
on the part of the people of the country, there may 
be awakened in the minds of men of affairs, as a class, 
social consciousness which will produce more minds 
of the type of Julius Rosenwald, V. Everitt Macy, 
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the late Willard Straight. 

Many colleges have already developed intelligent 
propaganda in order to bring them into active and 
continuous relation with the general public. A defi- 
nite technique has been developed in their relation to 
the community in the form of college news bureaus. 
These bureaus have formed an intercollegiate as- 
sociation whose members meet once a year to dis- 
cuss their problems. These problems include the 
education of the alumnus and his effect upon the 
general public and upon specific groups, the education 
of the future student to the choice of the particular 
college, the maintenance of an esprit ie corps so that 
the athletic prowess of the college will not be placed 
first, the development of some familiarity with 
the research work done in the college in order to at- 
tract the attention of those who may be able to lend 
aid, the development of an understanding of the 
aims and the work of the institution in order to 
attract special endowments for specified purposes. 

Some seventy-five of these bureaus are now affili- 
ated with the American Association of College News 
Bureaus, including those of Yale, Wellesley, Illinois, 
Indiana, Wisconsin, Western Reserve, Tufts and 



California. A bi-monthly news letter is published, 
bringing to members the news of their profession. 
The Association endeavors to uphold the ethical 
standards of the profession and aims to work in har- 
mony with the press. 

The National Education Association and other 
societies are carrying on a definite propaganda to pro- 
mote the larger purposes of educational endeavor. 
One of the aims of such propaganda is of course im- 
provement in the prestige and material position of 
the teachers themselves. An occasional McAndrew 
case calls the attention of the public to the fact that 
in some schools the teacher is far from enjoying full 
academic freedom, while in certain communities the 
choice of teachers is based upon political or sectarian 
considerations rather than upon real ability. If such 
issues were made, by means of propaganda, to become 
a matter of public concern on a truly national scale, 
there would doubtless be a general tendency to 

The concrete problems of colleges are more varied 
and puzzling than one might suppose. The pharma- 
ceutical college of a university is concerned because 
the drug store is no longer merely a drug store, but 
primarily a soda fountain, a lunch counter, a book- 
shop, a retailer of all sorts of general merchandise 
from society stationery to spare radio parts. The col- 
lege realizes the economic utility of the lunch 
counter feature to the practicing druggist, yet it 


Propaganda for Education 

feels that the ancient and honorable art of com- 
pounding specifics is being degraded. 

Cornell University discovers that endowments are 
rare. Why? Because the people think that the 
University is a state institution and therefore pub- 
licly supported. 

Many of our leading universities rightly feel that 
the results of their scholarly researches should not 
only be presented to libraries and learned publica- 
tions, but should also, where practicable and useful, 
be given to the public in the dramatic form which the 
public can understand. Harvard is but one ex- 

“Not long ago,” says Charles A. Merrill in Per- 
sonality^ “a certain Harvard professor vaulted into 
the newspaper headlines. There were several days 
when one could hardly pick up a paper in any of the 
larger cities without finding his name bracketed with 
his achievement. 

“The professor, who was back from a trip to 
Yucatan in the interests of science, had solved the 
mystery of the Venus calendar of the ancient Mayas. 
He had discovered the key to the puzzle of how tfie 
Mayas kept tab on the flight of time. Checking the 
Mayan record of celestial events against the known 
astronomical facts, he had found a perfect correla- 
tion between the time count of these Central Ameri- 
can Indians and the true positions of the planet Venus 
in the sixth century b.c. A civilization which flour- 



ished in the Western Hemisphere twenty-five centu- 
ries ago was demonstrated to have attained heights 
hitherto unappreciated by the modern world. 

“How the professor’s discovery happened to be 
chronicled in the popular press is, also, in retrospect, 
a matter of interest. . . .. If left to his own de- 
vices, he might never have appeared in print, ex- 
cept perhaps in some technical publication, and his 
remarks there would have been no more intelli- 
gible to the average man or woman than if they had 
been inscribed in Mayan hieroglyphics. 

“Popularization of this message from antiquity 
was due to the initiative of a young man named 
James W. D. Seymour. . . . 

“It may surprise and shock some people,” Mr. 
Merrill adds, “to be told that the oldest and most 
dignified seats of learning in America now hire press 
agents, just as railroad companies, fraternal organ- 
izations, moving picture producers and political 
parties retain them. It is nevertheless a fact. . . . 

“. . . there is hardly a college or university in 
the country which does not, with the approval of the 
governing body and the faculty, maintain a pub- 
licity office, with a director and a staff of assistants, 
for the purpose of establishing friendly relations 
with the newspapers, and through the newspapers, 
with the public. . . . 

“This enterprise breaks sharply with tradition. In 
the older seats of learning it is a recent innovation. 


Propaganda for Education 

It violates the fundamental article in the creed of 
the old academic societies. Cloistered seclusion used 
to be considered the first essential of scholarship. 
The college was anxious to preserve its aloofness 
from the world. ... 

“The colleges used to resent outside interest in 
their affairs. They might, somewhat reluctantly and 
contemptuously, admit reporters to their Commence- 
ment Day exercises, but no further would they 

go. ... 

“To-day, if a newspaper reporter wants to inter- 
view a Harvard professor, he has merely to tele- 
phone the Secretary for Information to the 
University. Officially, Harvard still shies away 
from the title ‘Director of Publicity.^ Informally, 
however, the secretary with the long title is the pub- 
licity man. He is an important official to-day at 

It may be a new idea that the president of a 
university will concern himself with the kind of 
mental picture his institution produces on the public 
mind. Yet it is part of the president’s work to see 
that his university takes its proper place in the com- 
munity and therefore also in the community mind, 
and produces the results desired, both in a cultural 
and in a financial sense. 

If his institution does not produce the mental pic- 
ture which it should, one of two things may be 
wrong: Either the media of communication with 



the public may be wrong or unbalanced} or his in- 
stitution may be at fault. The public is getting an 
oblique impression of the university, in which case 
the impression should be modified} or it may be that 
the public is getting a correct impression, in which 
case, very possibly, the work of the university itself 
should be modified. For both possibilities lie within 
the province of the public relations counsel. 

Columbia University recently instituted a Casa 
haliana, which was solemnly inaugurated in the 
presence of representatives of the Italian govern- 
ment, to emphasize its high standing in Latin studies 
and the Romance languages. Years ago Harvard 
founded the Germanic Museum, which was cere- 
moniously opened by Prince Henry of Prussia. 

Many colleges maintain extension courses which 
bring their work to the knowledge of a broad public. 
It is of course proper that such courses should be 
made known to the general public. But, to take an- 
other example, if they have been badly planned, 
from the point of view of public relations, if they 
are unduly scholastic and detached, their effect may 
be the opposite of favorable. In such a case, it is 
not the work of the public relations counsel to urge 
that the courses be made better known, but to urge 
that they first be modified to conform to the impres- 
sion which the college wishes to create, where that is 
compatible with the university’s scholastic ideals. 

Propaganda for Education 

Again, it may be the general opinion that the 
work of a certain institution is 8o per cent post- 
graduate research, an opinion which may tend to 
alienate public interest. This opinion may be true 
or it may be false. If it is false, it should be cor- 
rected by high-spotting undergraduate activities. 

If, on the other hand, it is true that 8o per cent 
of the work is postgraduate research, the most should 
be made of that fact. It should be the concern of 
the president to make known the discoveries which 
are of possible public interest. A university expe- 
dition into Biblical lands may be uninteresting as a 
purely scholastic undertaking, but if it contributes 
light on some Biblical assertion it will immediately 
arouse the interest of large masses of the popula- 
tion. The zoological department may be hunting 
for some strange bacillus which has no known re- 
lation to any human disease, but the fact that it is 
chasing bacilli is in itself capable of dramatic pres- 
entation to the public. 

Many universities now gladly lend members of 
their faculties to assist in investigations of public in- 
terest. Thus Cornell lent Professor Wilcox to aid 
the government in the preparation of the national 
census. Professor Irving Fisher of Yale has been 
called in to advise on currency matters. 

In the ethical sense, propaganda bears the same 
relation to education as to business or politics. It 



may be abused. It may be used to overadvertise an 
institution and to create In the public mind artificial 
values. There can be no absolute guarantee against 
its misuse. 



The public relations counsel is necessary to social 
work. And since social service, by its very nature, 
can continue only by means of the voluntary support 
of the wealthy, it is obliged to use propaganda con- 
tinually. The leaders in social service were among 
the first consciously to utilize propaganda in its 
modern sense. 

The great enemy of any attempt to change men’s 
habits is inertia. Civilization is limited by inertia. 

Our attitude toward social relations, toward eco- 
nomics, toward national and international politics, 
continues past attitudes and strengthens them under 
the force of tradition. Comstock drops his mantle 
of proselytizing morality on the willing shoulders of 
a Sumner 5 Penrose drops his mantle on Butler j Car- 
negie his on Schwab, and so ad infinitum. Opposing ’ 
this traditional acceptance of existing ideas is an active 
public opinion that has been directed consciously into 
movements against inertia. Public opinion was made 
or changed formerly by tribal chiefs, by kings, by 
religious leaders. To-day the privilege of attempt- 
ing to sway public opinion is every one’s. It is one 
of the manifestations of democracy that any one may 

135;' - 


try to convince others and to assume leadership on 
behalf of his own thesis. 

New ideas, new precedents, are continually striv- 
ing for a place in the scheme of things. 

The social settlement, the organized campaigns 
against tuberculosis and cancer, the various research 
activities aiming directly at the elimination of social 
diseases and maladjustments — ^ multitude of altru- 
istic activities which could be catalogued only in a 
book of many pages — have need of knowledge of the 
public mind and mass psychology if they are to 
achieve their aims. The literature on social service 
publicity is so extensive, and the underlying prin- 
ciples so fundamental, that only one example is nec- 
essary here to illustrate the technique of social service 

A social service organization undertook to fight 
lynching, Jim Crowisrn and the civil discriminations 
against the Negro below the Mason and Dixon line. 

The National Association for the Advancement of 
the Colored People had the fight in hand. As a 
matter of technique they decided to dramatize the 
year’s campaign in an annual convention which would 
concentrate attention on the problem. 

Should it be held in the North, South, West or 
East? Since the purpose was to affect the entire coun- 
try, the association was advised to hold it in the 
South. For, said the propagandist, a point of view 
on a southern question, emanating from a southern 


Propaganda in Social Service 

center, would have greater authority than the same 
point of view issuing from any other locality, par- 
ticularly when that point of view was at odds with 
the traditional southern point of view. Atlanta 
was chosen. 

The third step was to surround the conference 
with people who were stereotypes for ideas that car- 
ried weight all over the country. The support of 
leaders of diversified groups Was sought. Tele- 
grams and letters were dispatched to leaders of re- 
ligious, political, social and educational groups, ask- 
ing for their point of view on the purpose of the 
conference. But in addition to these group leaders 
of national standing it was particularly important 
from the technical standpoint to secure the opinions 
of group leaders of the South, even from Atlanta it- 
self, to emphasize the purposes of the conference to 
the entire public. There was one group in Atlanta 
which could be approached. A group of ministers 
had been bold enough to come out for a greater inter- 
racial amity. This group was approached and agreed 
to cooperate in the conference. 

The event ran ofF as scheduled. The program 
itself followed the general scheme. Negroes and 
white men from the South, on the same platform, ex- 
pressed the same point of view. 

A dramatic element was spot-lighted here and 
there. A national leader from Massachusetts agreed 



in principle and in practice with a Baptist preacher 
from the South. 

If the radio had been in effect, the whole country- 
might have heard and been moved by the speeches 
and the principles expressed. 

But the public read the words and the ideas in 
the press of the country. -For the event had been 
created of such important component parts as to 
awaken interest throughout the country and to gain 
support for its ideas even in the South. 

The editorials in the southern press, reflecting the 
public opinion of their communities, showed that the 
subject had become one of interest to the editors 
because of the participation by southern leaders. 

The event naturally gave the Association itself 
substantial weapons with which to appeal to an in- 
creasingly wider circle. Further publicity was at- 
tained by mailing reports, letters, and other propa- 
ganda to selected groups of the public. 

As for the practical results, the immediate one 
was a change in the minds of many southern editors 
who realized that the question at issue was not only 
an emotional one, but also a discussable onej and 
this point of view was immediately reflected to their 
readers. Further results are hard to measure with a 
slide-rule. The conference had its definite effect in 
building up the racial consciousness and solidarity of 
the Negroes. The decline in lynching is very prob- 


Propaganda in Social Service 

ably a result of this and other efforts of the Associa- 

Many churches have made paid advertising and 
organized propaganda part of their regular activities. 
They have developed church advertising committees, 
which make use of the newspaper and the billboard, 
as well as of the pamphlet. Many denominations 
maintain their own periodicals. The Methodist 
Board of Publication and Information systematically 
gives announcements and releases to the press and 
the magazines. 

But in a broader sense the very activities of social 
service are propaganda activities. A campaign for 
the preservation of the teeth seeks to alter people’s 
habits in the direction of more frequent brushing of 
teeth. A campaign for better parks seeks to alter 
people’s opinion in regard to the desirability of tax- 
ing themselves for the purchase of park facilities. A 
campaign against tuberculosis is an attempt to con- 
vince everybody that tuberculosis can be cured, that 
persons with certain symptoms should immediately 
go to the doctor, and the like. A campaign to lower 
the infant mortality rate is an effort to alter the 
habits of mothers in regard to feeding, bathing and 
caring for their babies. Social service, in fact, is 
identical with propaganda in many cases. 

Even those aspects of social service which are 
governmental and administrative, rather than chari- 
table and spontaneous, depend on wise propaganda 



for their effectiveness. Professor Harry Elmer 
Barnes, in his book, “The Evolution of Modern Pe- 
nology in Pennsylvania,” states that improvements 
in penological administration in that state are ham- 
pered by political influences. The legislature must 
be persuaded to permit the utilization of the best 
methods of scientific penology, and for this there is 
necessary the development of an enlightened public 
opinion. “Until such a situation has been brought 
about,” Mr. Barnes states, penology is 

doomed to be sporadic, local, and generally ineffec- 
tive. The solution of prison problems, then, seems 
to be fundamentally a problem of conscientious and 
scientific publicity.” 

Social progress is simply the progressive- education 
and enlightenment of the public mind in regard to its 
immediate and distant social problems. 




In the education of the American public toward 
greater art appreciation, propaganda plays an im- 
portant part. When art galleries seek to launch the 
canvases of an artist they should create public accept- 
ance for his works. To increase public appreciation 
a deliberate propagandizing effort must be made. 

In art as in politics the minority rules, but it can 
rule only by going out to meet the public on its own 
ground, by understanding the anatomy of public 
opinion and utilizing it. 

In applied and commercial art, propaganda makes 
greater opportunities for the artist than ever before. 
This arises from the fact that mass, production 
reaches an impasse when it competes on a price basis 
only. It must, therefore, in a large number of 
fields create a field of competition based on esthetic 
values. Business of many types ccpitalizes the es- 
thetic sense to increase markets and profits. Which 
is only another way of saying that the artist has the 
opportunity of collaborating with industry in such a 
way as to improve the public taste, injecting beauti- 
ful instead of ugly motifs into the articles of com- 
: 141 


mon use, and, furthermore, securing recognition and 
money for himself. 

Propaganda can play a part in pointing out what is 
and what is not beautiful, and business can definitely 
help in this way to raise the level of American cul- 
ture. In this process propaganda will naturally 
make use of the authority of group leaders whose 
taste and opinion are recognized. 

The public must be interested by means of asso- 
ciational values and dramatic incidents. New in- 
spiration, which to the artist may be a very technical 
and abstract kind of beauty, must be made vital to 
the public by association with values which it recog- 
nizes and responds to. 

For instance, in the manufacture of American 
silk, markets are developed by going to Paris for 
inspiration. Paris can give American silk a stamp 
of authority which will aid it to achieve definite 
position in the United States. 

The following clipping from the New York Times 
of February i6, 1925, tells the story from an actual 
incident of this sort; 

“Copyright, 1925, by The New York. Times 
Company — Special Cable to The New York 

“Paris, Feb. 15. — ^For the first time in his- 
tory, American art materials are to be exhibited 

Art and Science 

in the Decorative Arts Section of the Louvre 

“The exposition opening on May 26th with 
the Minister of Fine Arts, Paul Leon, acting as 
patron, will include silks from Cheney Brothers, 
South Manchester and New York, the designs 
of which were based on the inspiration of Edgar 
Brandt, famous French iron worker, the mod- 
ern Bellini, who makes wonderful art works 
from iron, 

“M. Brandt designed and made the monu- 
mental iron doors of the Verdun war memorial. 
He has been asked to assist and participate in 
this exposition, which will show France the ac- 
complishments of American industrial art. 

“Thirty designs inspired by Edgar Brandt’s 
work are embodied in 2,500 yards of printed 
silks, tinsels and cut velvets in a hundred 
colors. . . . 

“These ‘prints ferronnieres’ are the first tex- 
tiles to show the influence of the modern 
master, M. Brandt, The silken fabrics pos- 
sess a striking composition, showing character- 
istic Brandt motifs which were embodied in the 
tracery of large designs by the Cheney artists 
who succeeded in translating the iron into silk, 
a task which might appear almost impossible. 
The strength and brilliancy of the original de- 



sign is enhanced by the beauty and warmth of 


The result of this ceremony was that prominent 
department stores in New York, Chicago and other 
cities asked to have this exhibition. They tried to 
mold the public taste in conformity with the idea 
which had the approval of Paris. The silks of 
Cheney Brothers— a commercial product produced in 
quantity — ^gained a place in public esteem by being 
associated with the work of a recognized artist and 
with a great art museum. 

The same can be said of almost any commercial 
product susceptible of beautiful design. There are 
few products in daily use, whether furniture, clothes, 
lamps, posters, commercial labels, book jackets, 
pocketbooks or bathtubs which are not subject to the 
laws of good taste. 

In America, whole departments of production are 
being changed through propaganda to fill an eco- 
nomic as well as an esthetic need. Manufacture is 
being modified to conform to the economic need to 
satisfy the public demand for more beauty. A piano 
manufacturer recently engaged artists to design mod- 
ernist pianos. This was not done because there ex- 
isted a widespread demand for modernist pianos. 
Indeed, the manufacturer probably expected to sell 
few. But in order to draw attention to pianos one 
must have something more than a piano. People at 


Art and Science 

tea parties will not talk about pianos j but they may 
talk about the new modernist piano. 

When Secretary Hoover, three years ago, was 
asked to appoint a commission to the Paris Expo- 
sition of Decorative Arts, he did so. As Associate 
Commissioner I assisted in the organizing of the 
group of important business leaders in the industrial 
art field who went to Paris as delegates to visit and 
report on the Exposition. The propaganda carried 
on for the aims and purposes of the Commission 
xmdoubtedly had a widespread effect on the attitude 
of Americans towards art in industry; it was only a 
few years later that the modern art movement pene- 
trated all fields of industry. 

Department stores took it up. R. H. Macy & 
Company held an Art-in-Trades Exposition, in which 
the Metropolitan Museum of Art collaborated as 
adviser. Lord & Taylor sponsored a Modern Arts 
Exposition, with foreign exhibitors. These stores, 
coming closely in touch with the life of the people, 
performed a propagandizing function in bringing to 
the people the best in art as it related to these in- 
dustries. The Museum at the same time was alive 
to the importance of making contact with the public 
mind, by utilizing the department store to increase 
art appreciation. 

Of all art institutions the museum suffers most 
from the lack of effective propaganda. Most pres- 
ent-day museums have the reputation of being 



morgues or sanctuaries, whereas they should be 
leaders and teachers in the esthetic life of the com- 
munity. They have little vital relation to life. 

The treasures of beauty in a museum need to be 
interpreted to the public, and this requires a propa- 
gandist. The housewife in a Bronx apartment doubt- 
less feels little interest in an ancient Greek vase in the 
Metropolitan Museum. Yet an artist working with 
a pottery firm may adapt the design of this vase 
to a set of china and this china, priced low through 
quantity production, may find its way to that Bronx 
apartment, developing unconsciously, through its fine 
line and color, an appreciation of beauty. 

Some American museums feel this responsibility. 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York 
rightly prides itself on its million and a quarter of 
visitors in the year 1926; on its efforts to dramatize 
and make visual the civilizations which its various de- 
partments reveal j on its special lectures, its story 
hours, its loan collections of prints and photographs 
and lantern slides, its facilities offered to commercial 
firms in the field of applied art, on the outside lec- 
turers who are invited to lecture in its auditorium 
and on the lectures given by its staff to outside or- 
ganizations; and on the free chamber concerts given 
in the museum under the direction of David Mannes, 
which tend to dramatize the museum as a home of 
beauty. Yet that is not the whole of the problem. 

It is not merely a question of making people 

Art and Science 

come to the museum. It is also a question o£ mak- 
ing the museum, and the beauty which it houses, go 
to the people. 

The museum’s accomplishments should not be 
evaluated merely in terms of the number of visitors. 
Its function is not merely to receive visitors, but to 
project iself and what it stands for in the community 
which it serves. 

The museum can stand in its community for a defi- 
nite esthetic standard which can, by the help of in- 
telligent propaganda, permeate the daily lives of all 
its neighbors. Why should not a museum establish 
a museum council of art, to establish standards in 
home decoration, in architecture, and in commercial 
production? or a research board for applied arts? 
Why should not the museum, instead of merely pre- 
serving the art treasures which it possesses, quicken 
their meaning in terms which the general public 

A recent annual report of an art museum in one 
of the large cities of the United States, says: 

“An underlying characteristic of an Art Museum 
like ours must be its attitude of conservatism, for 
after all its first duty is to treasure the great achieve- 
ments of men in the arts and sciences.” 

Is that true? Is not another important duty to 
interpret the models of beauty which it possesses? 

If the duty of the museum is to be active it must 
study how best to make its message intelligible to 


the community which it serves. It must boldly as- 
sume esthetic leadership. 

As in art, so in science, both pure and applied. 
Pure science was once guarded and fostered by 
learned societies and scientific associations. Now 
pure science finds support and encouragement also 
in industry. Many of the laboratories in which ab- 
stract research is being pursued are now connected 
with some large corporation, which is quite willing 
to devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to scien- 
tific study, for the sake of one golden invention or 
discovery which may emerge from it. 

Big business of course gains heavily when the in- 
vention emerges. But at that very moment it 
assumes the responsibility of placing the new inven- 
tion at the service of the public. It assumes also the 
responsibility of interpreting its meaning to the 

The industrial interests can furnish to the schools, 
the colleges and the postgraduate university courses 
the exact truth concerning the scientific progress of 
our age. They not only can do S05 they are under 
obligation to do so. Propaganda as an instrument of 
commercial competition has opened opportunities to 
the inventor and given great stimulus to the research 
scientist. In the last five or ten years, the successes 
of some of the larger corporations have been so out- 
standing that the whole field of science has received 
a tremendous impetus. The American Telephone 


An and Science 

and Telegraph Company, the Western Electric Com- 
pany, the General Electric Company, the Westing- 
house Electric Company and others have realized the 
importance of scientific research. They have also 
understood that their ideas must be made intelligible 
to the public to be fully successful. Television, 
broadcasting, loud speakers are utilized as propa- 
ganda aids. 

Propaganda assists in marketing new inventions. 
Propaganda, by repeatedly interpreting new scien- 
tific ideas and inventions to the public, has made the 
public more receptive. Propaganda is accustoming 
the public to change and progress. 




The media by which special pleaders transmit 
their messages to the public through propaganda in- 
clude all the means by which people to-day transmit 
their ideas to one another. There is no means of hu- 
man communication which may not also be a means 
of deliberate propaganda, because propaganda is 
simply the establishing of reciprocal understanding 
between an individual and a group. 

The important point to the propagandist is that 
the relative value of the various instruments of 
propaganda, and their relation to the masses, are 
constantly changing. If he is to get full reach for 
his message he must take advantage of these shifts 
of value the instant they occur. Fifty years ago, 
the public meeting was a propaganda instrument par 
excellence. To-day it is difficult to get more than a 
handful of people to attend a public meeting unless 
extraordinary attractions are part of the program. 
The automobile takes them away from home, the 
radio keeps them in the home, the successive daily 
editions of the newspaper bring information to them 
in office or subway, and also they are sick of the 
ballyhoo of the rally. 


The Mechanics of Propaganda 

Instead there are numerous other media of com- 
munication, some new, others old but so transformed 
that they have become virtually new. The news- 
paper, of course, remains always a primary medium 
for the transmission of opinions and ideas — ^in other 
words, for propaganda. 

It was not many years ago that newspaper editors 
resented what they called “the use of the news col- 
umns for propaganda purposes.” Some editors 
would even kill a good story if they imagined its 
publication might benefit any one. This point of 
view is now largely abandoned. To-day the leading 
editorial offices take the view that the real criterion 
governing the publication or non-publication of mat- 
ter which comes to the desk is its news value. The 
newspaper cannot assume, nor is it its function to 
assume, the responsibility of guaranteeing that what 
it publishes will not work out to somebody’s interest. 
There is hardly a single item in any daily paper, the 
publication of which does not, or might not, profit or 
injure somebody. That is the nature of news. What 
the newspaper does strive for is that the news which 
it publishes shall be accurate, and (since it must select 
from the mass of news material available) that it 
shall be of interest and importance to large groups 
of its readers. 

In its editorial columns the newspaper is a per^ 
sonality, commenting upon things and events from its 
individual point of view. But in its news columns 



the typical modern American newspaper attempts to 
reproduce, with due regard to news interest, the out- 
standing events and opinions of the day. 

It does not ask whether a given item is propaganda 
or not. What is important is that it be news. And in 
the selection of news the editor is usually entirely 
independent. In the New York Times — to take an 
outstanding example — -news is printed because of its 
news value and for no other reason. The Times edi- 
tors determine with complete independence what is 
and what is not news. They brook no censorship. 
They are not influenced by any external pressure nor 
swayed by any values of expediency or opportunism. 
The conscientious editor on every newspaper realizes 
that his obligation to the public is news. The fact of 
its accomplishment makes it news. 

If the public relations counsel can breathe the 
breath of life into an idea and make it take its place 
among other ideas and events, it will receive the 
public attention it merits. There can be no question 
of his “contaminating news at its source.” He creates 
some of the day’s events, which must compete in 
the editorial office with other events. Often the 
events which he creates may be specially acceptable 
to a newspaper’s public and he may create them with 
that public in mind. 

If important things of life to-day consist of trans- 
atlantic radiophone talks arranged by commercial 
telephone companies j if they consist of inventions 

iSa / 

The Mechanics of Propaganda 

that will be commercially advantageous to the men 
who market themj if they consist of Henry Fords 
with epoch-making cars — ^then all this is news. The 
so-called flow of propaganda into the newspaper 
offices of the country may, simply at the editor’s dis- 
cretion, find its way to the waste basket. 

The source of the news offered to the editor 
should always be clearly stated and the facts accu- 
rately presented. 

The situation of the magazines at the present 
moment, from the propagandist’s point of view, is 
different from that of the daily newspapers. The 
average magazine assumes no obligation, as the 
newspaper does, to reflect the current news. It 
selects its material deliberately, in accordance with 
a continuous policy. It is not, like the newspaper, 
an organ of public opinion, but tends rather to be- 
come a propagandist organ, propagandizing for a 
particular idea, whether it be good housekeeping, or 
smart apparel, or beauty in home decoration, or de- 
bunking public opinion, or general enlightenment or 
liberalism or amusement. One magazine may aim 
to sell health} another, English gardens} another, 
fashionable men’s wear} another, Nietzschean phi- 

In all departments in which the various magazines 
specialize, the public relations counsel may play an 
important part. For he may, because of his client’s 
interest, assist them to create the events which 



further their propaganda, A bank, in order to em- 
phasize the importance of its women’s department, 
may arrange to supply a leading women’s magazine 
with a series of articles and advice on investments 
written by the woman expert in charge of this de- 
partment. The women’s magazine in turn will 
utilize this new feature as a means of building addi- 
tional prestige and circulation. 

The lecture, once a powerful means of influencing 
public opinion, has changed its value. The lecture 
itself may be only a symbol, a ceremony 5 its impor- 
tance, for propaganda purposes, lies in the fact that 
it was delivered. Professor So-and-So, expounding 
an epoch-making invention, may speak to five hun- 
dred persons, or only fifty. His lecture, if it is 
important, will be broadcast} reports of it will ap- 
pear in the newspapers} discussion will be stimu- 
lated. The real value of the lecture, from the 
propaganda point of view, is in its repercussion to 
the general public. 

The radio is at present one of the most important 
tools of the propagandist. Its future development 
is uncertain. 

It may compete with the newspaper as an adver- 
tising medium. Its ability to reach millions of per- 
sons simultaneously naturally appeals to the adver- 
tiser. And since the average advertiser has a limited 
appropriation for advertising, money spent on the 


The Mechanics of Propaganda 

radio will tend to be withdrawn from the news- 

To what extent is the publisher alive to this new 
phenomenon? It is bound to come close to American 
journalism and publishing. Newspapers have recog- 
nized the advertising potentialities o£ the companies 
that manufacture radio apparatus, and of radio 
stores, large and small j and newspapers have ac- 
corded to the radio in their news and feature col- 
umns an importance relative to the increasing atten- 
tion given by the public to radio. At the same time, 
certain newspapers have bought radio stations and 
linked them up with their news and entertainment 
distribution facilities, supplying these two features 
over the air to the public. 

It is possible that newspaper chains will sell sched- 
ules of advertising space on the air and on paper. 
Newspaper chains will possibly contract with adver- 
tisers for circulation on paper and over the air. 
There are, at present, publishers who sell space in 
the air and in their columns, but they regard the two 
as separate ventures. 

Large groups, political, racial, sectarian, economic 
or professional, are tending to control stations to 
propagandize their points of view. Or is it con- 
ceivable that America may adopt the English licens- 
ing system under which the listener, instead of the 
advertiser, pays? 

Whether the present system is changed, the ad- 



vertiser — and propagandist — ^must necessarily adapt 
himself to it. Whether, in the future, air space will 
be sold openly as such, or whether the message will 
reach the public in the form of straight entertain- 
ment and news, or as special programs for particular 
groups, the propagandist must be prepared to meet 
the conditions and utilize them. 

The American motion picture is the greatest un- 
conscious carrier of propaganda in the world to-day. 
It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. 

The motion picture can standardize the ideas and 
habits of a nation. Because pictures are made to 
meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and 
even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather 
than stimulate new ideas and opinions. The motion 
picture avails itself only of ideas and facts which 
are in vogue. As the newspaper seeks to purvey 
news, it seeks to purvey entertainment. 

Another instrument of propaganda is the person- 
ality. Has the device of the exploited personality 
been pushed too far? President Coolidge photo- 
graphed on his vacation in full Indian regalia in 
company with full-blooded chiefs, was the climax of 
a greatly over-reported vacation. Obviously a pub- 
lic personality can be made absurd by misuse of the 
very mechanism which helped create it. 

Yet the vivid dramatization of personality will 
always remain one of the functions of the public 
relations counsel. The public instinctively demands 


The Mechanics of Propaganda 

a personality to typify a conspicuous corporation or 

There is a story that a great financier discharged 
a partner because he had divorced his wife. 

“But what,” asked the partner, “have my private 
affairs to do with the banking business?” 

“If you are not capable of managing your own 
wife,” was the reply, “the people will certainly be- 
lieve that you are not capable of managing their 

The propagandist must treat personality as he 
would treat any other objective fact within his 

A personality may create circumstances, as Lind- 
bergh created good will between the United States 
and Mexico. Events may create a personality, as 
the Cuban War created the political figure of Roose- 
velt. It is often difficult to say which creates the 
other. Once a public figure has decided what ends 
he wishes to achieve, he must regard himself objec- 
tively and present an outward picture of himself 
which is consistent with his real character and his 

There are a multitude of other avenues of ap- 
proach to the public mind, some old, some new as 
television. No attempt will be made to discuss each 
one separately. The school may disseminate infor- 
mation concerning scientific facts. The fact that a 
commercial concern may eventually profit from a 



widespread understanding of its activities because of 
this does not condemn the dissemination of such in- 
formation, provided that the subject merits study- 
on the part of the students. If a baking corporation 
contributes pictures and charts to a school to show 
how bread is made, these propaganda activities, if 
they are accurate and candid, are in no way repre- 
hensible, provided the school authorities accept or re- 
ject such offers carefully on their educational merits. 

It may be that a new product will be announced 
to the public by means of a motion picture of a 
parade taking place a thousand miles away. Or the 
manufacturer of a new jitney airplane may person- 
ally appear and speak in a million homes through 
radio and television. The man who would most 
effectively transmit his message to the public must 
be alert to make use of all the means of propaganda. 

Undoubtedly the public is becoming aware of the 
methods which are being used to mold its opinions 
and habits. If the public is better informed about 
the processes of its own life, it will be so much the 
more receptive to reasonable appeals to its own in- 
terests. No matter how sophisticated, how cynical the 
public may become about publicity methods, it must 
respond to the basic appeals, because it will always 
need food, crave amusement, long for beauty, re- 
spond to leadership. 

If the public becomes more intelligent in its com- 
mercial demands, commercial firms will meet the 


The Mechanics of Propaganda 

new standards. If it becomes weary of the old 
methods used to persuade it to accept a given idea 
or commodity, its leaders will present their appeals 
more intelligently. 

Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men 
must realize that propaganda is the modern instru- 
ment by which they can fight for productive ends 
and help to bring order out of chaos.